A US judge says it is her “preliminary intent” to grant former president Donald Trump’s request to appoint a special master to oversee a review of materials seized from his Florida home during an FBI raid.
US District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who was nominated by Trump in 2020, on Saturday also directed the Justice Department to submit under seal more details “specifying all property seized pursuant to the search warrant.”
Trump had also demanded the Justice Department provide him a more detailed property receipt outlining items the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago home during its August 8 search, and asked investigators to return any items outside the scope of the search warrant.
Cannon gave the government until Tuesday to file a response to Trump’s request for a special master and set a hearing for Thursday. Her order said she had not made a final determination on Trump’s request.
A special master can sometimes be appointed in highly sensitive cases to go through seized materials and ensure that investigators do not review privileged information.
The Justice Department on Friday disclosed it was investigating Trump for removing White House records because it believed he illegally held documents including some involving intelligence-gathering and clandestine human sources – among America’s most closely held secrets.
In the affidavit, an unidentified FBI agent said the agency reviewed and identified 184 documents “bearing classification markings” containing “national defence information” after Trump in January returned 15 boxes of government records sought by the US National Archives.
The search was part of a federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed and kept documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden and whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe.
Trump, a Republican who is considering another presidential run in 2024, has described the court-approved search at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach as politically motivated, and on Friday again described it as a “break-in”.