Saturday, March 25

Judge signals support for special master to review Trump Mar-a-Lago docs

A federal judge in Florida indicated that her “preliminary intent” was to appoint a special master to examine the trove of documents removed from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort earlier this month. ​

US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2020, cautioned that the​​ order issued Saturday should not be “construed as a final determination” on the former president’s motion. ​​

Aileen Cannon.
Judge Aileen Cannon signaled support for former President Donald Trump’s motion to appoint the special master.

Cannon, a judge in the ​Southern District of Florida, set a hearing for Thursday and gave the Justice Department a ​​Wednesday deadline to file a response to Trump’s motion, as well as a “more detailed” property receipt of what was removed from the Palm Beach property during the Aug. 8 raid and the status of the review of the documents. ​

She noted that a “filter team” was already conducting a review of the materials.

Trump, who has condemned the search for documents at his oceanside home, filed a motion last week to appoint the special master. 

“Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans. It cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes,”​ Trump’s legal team said in the filing. “Therefore, we seek judicial assistance in the aftermath of an unprecedented and unnecessary raid on President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.”

In a message on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, Trump reiterated his belief that the raid was politically motivated because he is the “clear frontrunner” in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

Former President Donald Trump believes the raid was politically motivated because he is the “clear frontrunner” in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
Steve Helber/AP

“Federal Judge in Florida just took over the Presidential Records Act case, including the unprecedented, unnecessary, and unannounced FBI/DOJ Raid (Break-In!) of my home, Mar-a-Lago. This assault was done for political purposes just prior to the Midterm Elections (and 2024, of course!),” he said in the posting. “It is a disgrace to our now Third World Nation!”​

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Cannon’s two-page ruling came a day after the Justice Department released the heavily redacted affidavit used to get a judge to sign off on the search of Trump’s estate for classified documents.

The FBI said in the 38-page document said the raid was warranted because a review of boxes of documents the National Archives and Records Administration removed from Mar-a-Lago in January turned up sensitive materials.

Some of them were marked “HCS,” an abbreviation for the HUMINT Control System, which refers to highly classified government measures used to “protect intelligence information derived from clandestine human sources​.​” 

Of the 184 classified documents retrieved, 25 were marked as top secret, 92 were labeled secret and another 67 were confidential, the affidavit says.​

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