Biden’s DOJ fights with Trump’s legal team over who should be special master to oversee seized documents

Donald Trump and his legal team are at odds with Biden’s Department of Justice over who will be the special master ordered to independently review the documents the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Reuters reports that according to a joint filing on Friday, the two sides are fighting about who will fill the role, with the DOJ offering up Barbara Jones, a retired judge who has special master experience from cases with Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen, or Thomas Griffith, who was a DC appeals judge that was appointed by George W. Bush. Trump’s team wants Florida’s former Deputy Attorney General Paul Huck or Raymond Dearie, who were on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and a judge from the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, respectively.

The two sides are also fighting over whether the special master should have the power to consult with US National Archives and Records Administration, the organization that was cited in the affidavit and served as the inciting incident for the raid.

The affidavit states that the investigation began because the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) sent a referral to the Department of Justice. NARA believed documents were missing from a cache of material Trump sent to the agency.

Trump and Biden’s DOJ are also battling over who should foot the special master’s bill. Trump offered to split the cost but the DOJ claims Trump should pay for the special master in entirety.

US District Judge Aileen M. Cannon from the Southern District of Florida appointed a special master on Monday.

Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in the Southern District of Florida on August 22 asking that a special master be appointed to determine what materials from the Mar-a-Lago raid can be used against him in the investigation.

Judge Cannon said because of “the exceptional circumstances presented” she was issuing the order and previously ordered the Justice Department to provide a “more detailed Receipt for Property specifying all property seized pursuant to the search warrant,” which they balked, saying it was not necessary.

Trump claimed that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago residence on August 8. Trump was in New York when 30 FBI agents descended upon his Florida property and took several boxes of documents and two passports from his residence.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

Authorities originally claimed the raid was spurred in response to Trump personally keeping documents covered under the Presidential Records Act. Later, the authorities claimed the raid was predicated by concerns Trump violated the federal laws 18 USC 793, or “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information” — a crime that falls under the Espionage Act, 18 USC 2071, or “concealment, removal or mutilation,” and 18 USC 1519, or “destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.”

The former president said the documents that the FBI retrieved from the estate had been declassified through a “standing order” of Trump’s that let him take classified materials from the White House to his private residence so he could work out of office.

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