U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon sided with former President Donald Trump’s legal team on Thursday in his latest skirmish with the Biden administration’s Department of Justice over the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
In a Sept. 22 court filing, retired U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master assigned to the case, ordered Trump’s legal team to confirm or deny the accuracy of the DOJ’s inventory list of items seized during the Aug. 8 raid, according to The Hill.
The order — which Axios described as a demand that Trump “put up or shut up” — said the former president’s attorneys must “raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory,” and Dearie demanded a response by Friday.
Trump has said in interviews and on social media that the FBI might have planted evidence in his residence during the daylong search to incriminate him, and others — including Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — have speculated about the possibility.
I think there is an extremely high probability that the FBI planted “evidence” against President Trump.
Otherwise WHY would they NOT allow his attorneys or anyone watch them while they conducted their unprecedented raid?
They know the consequences of an empty handed power move. pic.twitter.com/zQ9ptmtFw6
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) August 10, 2022
He also has maintained that he declassified all of the documents before he left the White House.
In a Wednesday letter to Dearie, Trump’s legal team objected to his order, arguing the special master’s “management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the district court on this issue.”
Cannon agreed, saying in an order Thursday that the former president’s attorneys must be allowed to review the documents before attesting to their accuracy. Considering there are more than 11,000 pages of records to review, her request is extremely reasonable.
“There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff at this stage, prior to the review of any of the Seized Materials, to lodge ex ante final objections to the accuracy of Defendant’s Inventory, its descriptions, or its contents,” wrote the judge, who serves in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. “The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation.”
She also extended Dearie’s deadline for the attorneys to review the documents from Nov. 30 to Dec. 16.
NEW: Judge backs Trump on mechanics, timing of Mar-a-Lago document review, again rebuffs stance taken by special master & government. Schedule set by Judge Aileen Cannon seems destined to stretch process into 2023. w/@kyledcheney https://t.co/MUe6rlhDnu
— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) September 29, 2022
The Hill reported that Cannon did, however, uphold Dearie’s requirement that Trump’s lawyers must be “more specific about what types of executive privilege he wishes to assert over the documents.”
The former president’s attorneys are required to identify their specific objection to the inclusion of each document in the DOJ’s inventory, a time-intensive task. Objections would include attorney-client privilege, executive privilege or if they consider the document or artifact to be Trump’s personal property.
Cannon’s order pushes the deadline beyond the midterm elections, whereas Dearie had ordered it to be done “on a rolling basis,” according to the Hill.
Dearie was proposed by Trump’s attorneys for the special master position. So far, his selection seems to be benefiting the Biden Justice Department.
Last week, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed the DOJ a win when it reversed an order from Cannon that “temporarily blocked investigators from examining” the documents, Axios reported.
In early September, Cannon asked the DOJ to stop its review of the documents seized in the raid until the special master had reviewed them.
In its appeal, the DOJ argued this “would hinder its investigation.” The appeals court agreed and granted the request.
The amount of disagreement between the federal judges and the special master underscores the political nature of the case.
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