The Justice Department on Tuesday will file publicly in court its response to former President Donald Trump’s bid for a special master to oversee the FBI’s review of materials seized in the Mar-a-Lago search.
The agency was granted permission by Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida to file up to 40 pages after it said the 20-page limit set by the local rules of the court wasn’t sufficient to “adequately address the legal and factual issues raised by” Trump’s filings.
Cannon, a Trump appointee, did not set a specific deadline for the Justice Department’s filing beyond requesting it “on or before” Tuesday. The judge also ordered the agency to file under seal more details about what it seized from Trump’s resort, and a notice laying out the status of its review of the materials.
Trump must file his reply to the Justice Department by 8 p.m. ET Wednesday night, per Cannon’s order, and the judge has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to consider Trump’s request for a special master – a third-party attorney appointed by a court to oversee part of a certain case. Notably, Cannon has already signaled a “preliminary intent” to grant Trump’s request, which could bring new complications to the DOJ’s closely watched investigation.
Trump’s legal team is broadly arguing that a special master is necessary to ensure the Justice Department returns any of his private documents seized during the search of Mar-a-Lago.
The former President’s attorneys say his constitutional rights were violated, and that there may have been privileged materials seized. But in court filings, Trump has not elaborated on what exactly he hoped a special master would filter out, besides general allusions to “privileged and potentially privileged materials.”
The Justice Department, meanwhile, has already signaled that it is using an internal filter team to review the seized items and separate material that could be subject to privilege claims.
In a court filing Monday, the agency said it has identified “a limited set of materials” from its search of documents taken from Mar-a-Lago that potentially contain material covered by attorney-client privilege and is in the process of addressing privilege disputes.