U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has just delivered President Donald Trump a big win in the effort to have a special master evaluate all the material seized from his home by the FBI.
First, Cannon has appointed the special master candidate proposed by the Trump team — senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie. The DOJ agreed to Dearie being appointed. It should be noted that Dearie was the judge who approved one of the FISA warrants against Carter Page that was later found to be invalid. The FBI misled the Court in getting at least one of those warrants and that can’t be something that would be lost on Dearie, so that might end up being helpful to the Trump team that he, above all people, would know the FBI can’t be fully trusted.
But perhaps more importantly, Cannon denied the DOJ their request for a partial stay to prevent the allegedly “classified records” — about 100 documents — from being turned over to the special master with the rest of the records for evaluation. The judge’s finding was fascinating.
The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion
In other words, the judge wasn’t just accepting the government’s representation.
The judge said:
[S]ome of those materials undisputedly constitute personal property and/or privileged materials [ECF No. 64 p. 13]; the record suggests ongoing factual and legal disputes as to precisely which materials constitute personal property and/or privileged materials [ECF No. 64 p. 14]; and there are documented instances giving rise to concerns about the Government’s ability to properly categorize and screen materials[.]
The only thing that the judge gave the government was that she would have the special master prioritize those 100 documents to have them looked at first for evaluation.
The DOJ’s effort to prevent the special master from seeing the documents just failed. That means that they likely wouldn’t be able to have false leaks about what was seized, once the special master gets hold of the documents. So, if they were going to have a “let’s leak” effort until the election, this might have just put a stop to that. Plus, the special master is also going to hopefully give a fair hearing, so Trump gets his documents back. Also, the special master, being a judge, will be aware of the law regarding the Presidential Records Act, which gives the former president virtual control over his records.
This is a big win for Trump and transparency. Hopefully, the judge now will conduct an honest and fair evaluation, and prevent the misuse of Trump’s personal information against him.