On Tuesday, the Justice Department will publicly file its response to former President Donald Trump’s request for a special master to oversee the FBI’s review of materials seized during the Mar-a-Lago search.
Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida granted the agency permission to file up to 40 pages after it claimed that the 20-page limit set by the court’s local rules was insufficient to “adequately address the legal and factual issues raised by” Trump’s filings.
Cannon, a Trump appointee, did not specify a deadline for the Justice Department’s filing, only that it be submitted “on or before” Tuesday. The judge also ordered the agency to file additional information about what it seized from Trump’s resort, and a notice laying out the status of its review of the materials.
According to Cannon’s order, Trump must file his response to the Justice Department by 8 p.m. ET Wednesday night, 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 specific case. Notably, Cannon has already expressed “preliminary intent” to grant Trump’s request, which could complicate the DOJ’s closely watched investigation.
Trump’s legal team is arguing that a special master is required to ensure that the Justice Department returns any private documents seized during the Mar-a-Lago search.
According to the former President’s attorneys, his constitutional rights were violated, and privileged materials were seized. But, aside from general references to “privileged and potentially privileged materials,” Trump has not elaborated in court filings on what he hoped a special master would filter out.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has already indicated that it will use an internal filter team to review the seized items and separate material that may be subject to privilege claims.
In a court filing on Monday, the agency stated that it has identified “a limited set of materials” from its search of documents taken from Mar-a-Lago that may contain material protected by attorney-client privilege and is currently addressing privilege disputes.