The special master selected to review more than 11,000 records removed by the FBI from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last month has laid out his action plan with a tight schedule and plans to finish the records review in late October. .
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday stayed a lower court’s order requiring Special Master Raymond Dearie to evaluate about 100 classified documents, preventing the Justice Department from using them as part of its criminal investigation. at the time the inspection took place.
Once resolved, Dearie, a former chief judge in Brooklyn federal court, has set a groundbreaking schedule to review and declassify all documents seized by the FBI during an Aug. 8 warrant-approved search of Trump’s courthouse in Palm Beach. that may be covered by claims of attorney-client or executive privilege, and determine whether any material should be returned to Trump. Once the review is complete, Dearie will prepare a report of his recommendations to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.
Dearie’s statement says he has asked former U.S. District Judge James Orenstein for the Eastern District of New York to pay $500 an hour. Cannon has already ruled that Trump is responsible for the costs of the special magisterial review.
Dearie said he is not seeking compensation because he is still on the bench, but is assigning Eastern District staff to help retrieve the documents. The next status conference is scheduled for October 6 by telephone.
The Justice Department is due to file an affidavit by Monday proving the accuracy of the inventory the department released detailing the removal from Mar-a-Lago.
Trump has until Sept. 30 to file an affidavit objecting to the inventory, including listing any items taken that are not on the list, or items reported to have been removed from the list that he disputes were on his property. Trump and his allies have repeatedly claimed that the FBI gathered evidence during the search, although his lawyers have not raised this in court.
“This submission is the plaintiff’s last opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the itemized property inventory,” Dearie noted.
Dearie also directed the administration and Trump’s legal team to agree on a third-party vendor to digitize the documents by Friday and stipulated that the vendor would have three days to make the documents available electronically so that the review could begin.
Trump’s legal team was also tasked with filing all claims for each record in the following categories: attorney-client privilege; attorney work product privilege; executive privilege, which prohibits review of a document within the executive branch; executive branch privilege that prohibits distribution of a document to persons or entities outside the executive branch; if the document is a presidential record within the meaning of the Presidential Records Act 1978; and if the document is a personal document under this Act.
For each document Trump designates privileged or personal, he must include a brief statement explaining the basis for the designation.
Dearie instructed Trump’s team to provide periodic updates on Trump’s claims and make a final decision on which of the 11,000 records the former president wants to claim by Oct. 14.
The Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers must also try to resolve as many disputes over the documents as possible, although Dearine noted that he will step in to resolve disputes throughout the process. The department and Trump’s lawyers are due to submit a final dispute log by Oct. 21.
Trump’s legal team received the documents, which the FBI’s filter team found to be under attorney-client privilege, on Sept. 16, and Dearie’s statement told the former president’s legal team to begin reviewing those documents and confirm any claims of attorney-client privilege.
Dearie said that once the district court has reviewed his work, he will consider any of Trump’s applications to return the property. The filing also instructs Trump to address in that potential filing whether Cannon or the D.C. District Judge who issued the search warrant is the proper venue to hear such a claim.