Former President Donald Trump’s pursuit of a special master to oversee the Justice Department’s assessment of the evidence gathered at Mar-a-Lago comes at a critical time as a hearing on the request is scheduled for Thursday. will start.
A federal judge has identified a “tentative intent” to grant the request, which could create new complications for the DOJ’s close investigation into the White House documents Trump took to his Florida residence.
Here’s what a special master is and what it would mean for the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago:
What is a special master? A special captain is an outside attorney appointed by a court to oversee part of a particular case.
If appointed in Trump’s case, the special captain would oversee the Justice Department’s review of the evidence gathered from his beach club and filter out privileged material that may be seized during the search.
Why does Trump want a special master? Trump’s legal team is broadly claiming that a special master is needed to ensure that the Justice Department returns all of its private documents seized during the Mar-a-Lago search.
The former president’s lawyers say his constitutional rights have been violated and privileged material may have been seized. But in court records, Trump hasn’t elaborated on exactly what he hoped a special master would filter out, beyond general allusions to “privileged and potentially privileged materials.”
What is the position of the Ministry of Justice? The department has already indicated that it uses an internal filtering team to review the seized items, to segregate material that may be subject to privilege claims.
DOJ said in a court filing Monday that it has identified “a limited set of materials” from its search for documents extracted from Mar-a-Lago that may contain material under the privilege of client-lawyer, and is in the process of dealing with privilege disputes.
Justice officials also confirmed that US intelligence officials are reviewing the documents for classified material.
Investigators have already cited the work of a filtering team as they returned to Trump’s private documents that would not be part of the investigation, such as two expired passports and his diplomatic passport.
The Justice Department has said in court documents that it believes the evidence it has gathered at Mar-a-Lago will support its criminal investigation into mishandling federal documents, including national defense equipment, after Trump’s team records to Florida when he left office.
The probe is also looking for potential obstruction of justice in the investigation.