Attorneys for Donald Trump and the Justice Department have agreed on a possible candidate to be the special master. The special masters will look over the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago. The Justice Department said in a court filing Monday evening that Judge Raymond Dearie, suggested by Trump’s legal team, is a good choice for the third-party attorney who will review the seized materials independently.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon will decide who will be the special master; However, Dearie is considered a front runner as both parties agreed to him. Here’s what you need to know about Dearie and what role he could play in the investigation.
Dearie was appointed a federal judge in New York in1986, chosen by Former President Ronald Reagan. He retired in 2011 and is currently a senior judge on the circuit.
He was also a Judge on the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court, for seven years.
As part of the federal investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, Dearie was one of the judges who said it was okay for the FBI and DOJ to spy on Carter Page, the Trump campaign’s foreign policy adviser.
A DOJ inspector general report says that the way federal investigators got the FISA warrants were full of mistakes and sloppy work. Two of the four surveillance warrants the secretive FISA court gave to the FBI for Page have since been ruled invalid. This includes one that Dearie signed off on in June 2017 because the FBI forgot to include some information or made a mistake.
The Trump team’s choice of Dearie is interesting because Trump has criticized FISA surveillance many times and accused it of being a “deep state” plot to hurt his campaign without proof.
What would Dearie’s part be?
A special master is a lawyer from the outside brought in by the court to help with part of a case. As special master, he will be in charge of the Justice Department’s review of the evidence found at Trump’s Florida home and resort. They will also sort out any confidential documents found during the search.
Trump and the Justice Department have different ideas about other important parts of the special master review, such as how long it should take, who should pay for it, and what kinds of documents should be looked at.
Why did Trump request a special master?
Trump’s lawyers have said that a special master is needed to ensure that the Justice Department gives back any of his private documents taken during the search of Mar-a-Lago.
The former President’s lawyers said that his constitutional rights had been violated and that confidential materials may have been taken.
But in court documents, Trump hasn’t said exactly what he wanted a special master to filter out, other than vague references to “privileged and possibly privileged materials.”
In addition to Dearie, Trump’s legal team had suggested lawyer Paul Huck Jr., a former partner at the Jones Day law firm, as a special master. The DOJ disagreed with this idea, saying that Huck “does not appear to have similar experience” to Dearie and the two retired federal judges the department put forward.
What the DOJ thinks
The Justice Department had chosen Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith, who were federal judges before they retired.
Prosecutors wrote about Jones, Griffith, and Dearie. They stated that each has a lot of experience as a judge. During that time, they have presided over federal criminal and civil cases, including federal cases involving national security and privilege.
Dearie is the only person both sides agree could be the special master so far.
The Justice Department has said that a special master shouldn’t look at any documents that have been marked as classified and that the review shouldn’t take into account executive privilege.
Before Cannon sided with Trump, the DOJ challenged the need for a special master in court. In court documents, the DOJ said that during its search of documents taken from Mar-a-Lago, it had found “a limited set of materials” that might have information protected by attorney-client privilege and that it was already in the process of dealing with privilege disputes.
The DOJ wants the special master to move quickly and finish its review by October 17, five weeks from now, and Trump has said it should be 90 days.