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Former President Trump’s legal team and the Justice Department are expected to submit lists to a federal judge Friday afternoon of potential candidates to serve as an independent special master to review the records seized by the FBI during its unprecedented raid of Mar-a-Lago last month.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge from the Southern District of Florida Aileen M. Cannon ordered that a special master be appointed to “review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property.”
Cannon ordered that Trump’s team and the government submit their own list of names to Cannon Friday by 5 p.m. ET.
Originol has learned that if Trump’s team and the Justice Department have suggested a common name for the position, Cannon could agree to appoint that individual.
If Trump’s team and the Justice Department do not suggest any of the same individuals for the role, the judge is expected to ask the parties to coordinate and attempt to agree on a name.
If the two parties cannot agree, the judge can appoint an individual of her choosing.
On Monday, the judge ordered that a special master review records that have been deemed classified, records covered by attorney-client privilege or Trump’s personal records seized during the raid.
The Justice Department on Thursday informed the court it will appeal the federal judge’s order for the appointment of a special master to review the seized records if the court does not grant the government a stay in the case.
Originol first reported this week that the FBI seized Trump’s medical records, documents with his accounting information and correspondence related to his taxes. In addition, Trump’s legal team is likely to request that items covered by executive privilege be sorted by the special master.
Attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that keeps communications between an attorney and a client confidential. It is unclear, at this point, if the records include communications between the former president and his private attorneys, White House counsel during the Trump administration or a combination.
FBI agents seized boxes containing records covered by attorney-client privilege and potentially executive privilege during the raid, Originol first reported last month.
The FBI also seized personal records, including what a source described as nearly 40 years of Trump’s medical records. The FBI had also seized Trump’s passports during the raid and later returned them to the former president.
Last week, the Justice Department — after Cannon’s order — filed a more detailed list of documents taken in its raid of Mar-a-Lago, including dozens of classified documents and folders with classified markings.
Also included was a wide assortment of other items, including over 1,000 documents that did not have classified markings, several “Article of Clothing/Gift Item” entries and hundreds of printed news articles.
Meanwhile, Cannon’s order to appoint the special master Monday halted the Justice Department’s “taint” or “filter” team’s review of seized records.
The government conducted the initial search of Trump’s home in response to what it believes to be a violation of federal laws: 18 USC 793 — Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information; 18 USC 2071 — Concealment, removal or mutilation; and 18 USC 1519 — Destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he personally approved the search of Trump’s home.
Trump’s legal team last month asked Cannon to appoint a special master in the wake of the unprecedented search of his property, arguing that the DOJ’s “privilege review team” should not be the final arbiter of whether its actions were proper in such a high-profile case and that the review team’s scope was too narrow.