Trials & Litigation

Trump doesn’t have to detail claims about planted documents to special master, judge says

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Classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago

A photo of documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, submitted as evidence by the Department of Justice in federal court in Florida. Image from the Department of Justice.

There is no need for former President Donald Trump to raise objections to the government’s inventory of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida—at least at this stage of his lawsuit, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The Sept. 29 decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida is a victory for Trump, who objected when Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie, the special master, ordered him to state whether the inventory of seized items was complete and accurate.

Trump had claimed in interviews and on social media that the FBI planted documents during the Aug. 8 search, and that the government inaccurately described documents as classified that were in fact declassified.

Dearie had ordered Trump’s lawyers Sept. 22 to submit an affidavit or declaration items about problems with the inventory.

Cannon’s decision said there is no requirement “at this stage” for Trump to raise final objections about the inventory accuracy. She said her order appointing Dearie “did not contemplate that obligation.”

Cannon also pushed back the deadline for completion of the special master’s review to Dec. 16.

Publications with coverage of Cannon’s decision include the Washington Post, Law360 and the New York Times.

“While the dueling moves and countermoves by the judges were procedural in nature, they reflected a larger struggle over who should control the rules of the review—and whom those rules would favor,” the New York Times reports. “In removing the restrictions the special master had sought to impose, Judge Cannon essentially let Mr. Trump and his legal team out of a box that Judge Dearie had tried to put them in.”

See also: “Classified documents seized from Trump can be used now in criminal investigation, 11th Circuit rules” “Unclean hands and executive-privilege scope debated after judge requires special master in Trump case” “Will Trump be indicted in Mar-a-Lago documents case? His lawyers see possibility, object to special master request” “Who filed phony document in Trump Mar-a-Lago search case?” “Trump requests special master for review of documents seized by FBI” “DOJ files motion to unseal warrant, property receipt relating to search of Trump’s home” “Trump search-warrant affidavit, released on judge’s orders, cites sensitive documents, possible obstruction” “Meet Raymond Dearie, the judge picked to oversee Mar-a-Lago documents review” “Judge who signed Trump search warrant is targeted; critics seek ‘judgment of God’” “Could Trump be banned from office if he’s convicted of taking government documents?”

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