A veteran federal judge with experience dealing with national security issues in the United States has been appointed as an independent arbiter to verify records seized by the FBI from Donald Trump’s estate in Florida as part of a criminal investigation. In progress.
Florida-based U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday appointed Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie to serve as special master in the case.
Dearie, who is 78 and based in Brooklyn, is tasked with deciding whether any of the documents are privileged — either because of attorney-client confidentiality or under a legal principle called executive privilege — and should be barred to federal investigators.
Cannon had granted a request from Trump’s attorneys to appoint a special master to verify seized records. Dearie was one of two candidates for the post proposed by the former president, and the US Department of Justice had said it would not oppose his nomination.
Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department for keeping government records — some of which have been marked as highly classified, including “Top Secret” — at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach after having left office in January 2021. In a search of the property, FBI agents seized more than 11,000 files and 48 empty files marked classified.
The Justice Department is also investigating possible obstruction of the investigation after finding evidence that files may have been removed or concealed from the FBI when it sent agents to the property in June to try to recover all classified documents. .
Dearie served as an American attorney in Brooklyn before being named a federal judge there by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1986, and served as that court’s chief justice from 2007 to 2011. He assumed what is known as senior status – a sort of semi-retirement with a reduced workload – in 2011, a role in which he continues to serve.
The Justice Department said in a court filing on Monday that Dearie’s experience as a judge qualified him for the role of special petty officer, but opposed the other nominee put forward by Trump’s team, the private attorney Paul Huck. Trump’s lawyers opposed the two retired federal judges proposed by the department.
On the bench, Dearie was one of several judges presiding over cases against several men accused in 2009 of plotting to bomb the New York subway system at the direction of al-Qaeda leaders.
Dearie was appointed in 2011 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews U.S. government warrant applications on national security matters, where he served until 2019.
In 2017, he was one of four federal judges who approved warrants used to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page amid concerns over Trump campaign contacts with Russians, according to documents published in the media who sued for the records.
The Justice Department had opposed Trump’s request for a special master to review seized documents to see if any should be withheld from investigators as privileged.
In ruling in favor of Trump’s request for a special master, Cannon rejected the department’s arguments that the documents belong to the government and that because Trump is no longer president, he cannot claim executive privilege. Cannon was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020.
The document investigation is one of several federal and state investigations Trump has faced since his tenure and in the private sector as he considers another presidential bid in 2024.