Special master sets tight schedule to review Trump records

The special master chosen to review more than 11,000 files the FBI removed from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last month has laid out his course of action, with a tight schedule and intention to wrap up examination of the files at the end of October. .

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit stayed a lower court’s decision to have a special master Raymond Cherie assess approximately 100 classified files, which prevented the Department of Justice from using the files in its criminal investigation during the review.

With that resolved, Dearie, the former chief judge of federal court in Brooklyn, set a frantic schedule to review and separate all documents taken by the FBI. during the August 8 court-approved search in Palm Beach, Florida, of Trump’s home which may be covered by claims of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, and to determine whether any of the documents should be returned to Trump. Once the review is complete, Dearie will produce a report of her recommendations to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

Dearie’s filing says he tapped former U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, James Orenstein, at a proposed hourly rate of $500. Cannon has already ruled that Trump was responsible for the costs of the master’s special examination.

Dearie said he would not seek compensation as he is still on the bench, but would direct Eastern District staff to help dispose of the documents. The next status conference is scheduled for October 6 by telephone.

The Department of Justice must produce by Monday an affidavit attesting to the accuracy of the inventory that the department posted details items removed from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump has until September 30 to file an affidavit objecting to the inventory, including listing items that were taken that do not appear on the list, or items that the list says were removed and that he denies being on his property. Trump and his allies have repeatedly alleged that the FBI filed evidence during his raid, although his lawyers did not take the case to court.

“This submission will be the last opportunity for the claimant to raise any factual disputes as to the completeness and accuracy of the detailed property inventory,” Dearie said.

Dearie also asked the government and Trump’s legal team to agree by Friday on a third-party vendor to digitize the records and stipulated that the vendor will have three days to make the records available electronically so that the examination can begin.

Trump’s legal team has also been instructed to provide any assertions it will make on each case in these categories: attorney-client communication privilege; attorney’s work product lien; executive privilege that prohibits review of the document within the executive branch; executive privilege that prohibits dissemination of the document to persons or entities outside the executive; whether the document is a presidential record within the meaning of the Presidential Records Act 1978; and whether the document is a personal record under that law.

For any document that Trump designates as privileged or personal, it must include a brief statement explaining the basis for the designation.

Dearie asked Trump’s team to provide periodic updates on Trump’s claims and to make a final decision on what the former president wants to claim regarding the 11,000 records by October 14.

The Justice Department and Trump’s attorneys must also try to resolve as many disputes over the records as possible, though Dearine noted he would step in to resolve disputes throughout the process. The department and Trump’s attorneys are required to submit a final log of disputes by Oct. 21.

Trump’s legal team received the documents that the FBI screening team identified as falling under attorney-client privilege on September 16 and Dearie’s file told the former president’s legal team to start with review these documents and assert any claims of attorney-client privilege.

Dearie said once the circuit court reviews her work, it will consider any motions filed by Trump for the return of the property. The filing also asks Trump to indicate in this potential motion whether Cannon or the DC circuit judge who issued the search warrant is the appropriate venue to resolve such a claim.

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