Judge gives Trump until Friday to better explain why he wants special master for Mar-a-Lago documents


A federal judge in Florida has given former President Donald Trump until Friday to fine-tune his legal case. special master’s request to oversee the review of evidence collected during the search for Mar-a-Lago.

District Court Judge Aileen Cannon for the Southern District of Florida ordered Trump’s lawyers to expand on why the court has the ability to intervene at this time, explain what exactly Trump is asking for and whether the Justice Department was served with Trump. special master movement.

Cannon also asked Trump’s team to consider any effect the request might have on a separate review by a magistrate to determine whether portions of the still-sealed FBI affidavit pointing to probable cause for the search may be published.

The judge’s order lays out numerous ways in which the suit filed by Trump fell short of what might have been expected of a court submission seeking the appointment of a special master — in particular in a search as important as that carried out by the FBI in March -a-Lago earlier this month

“What she’s saying is, ‘What are you doing in front of me?

Generally speaking, it is not outside the legal norm for Trump to want a special master involved in reviewing evidence seized from his Florida residence. His former attorney, Michael Cohen, successfully requested the appointment of a special master when Cohen’s office and residences were raided by the FBI in 2018.

But Trump waited two weeks to make such a request, raising eyebrows at the stage at which the Justice Department is likely to review what he seized at Mar-a-Lago. (For the review, the Department of Justice uses what is called a “corruption team”, which is a group of prosecutors not working on the investigation in question and who filter the documents that should not be handed over. to investigators.)

And when Trump filed his request with the court, the complaint leaned heavily on political charges, while being light on the type of legal discussion that would tell a court why he should intervene and what authority he has to do so. When Trump’s lawyers cited court rules that they said gave the judge the authority to grant the request, they cited civil procedure rules, with no explanation as to why those rules should apply. in the context of a criminal search warrant.

Nor did Trump file with the complaint the type of separate request — such as a motion for a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction — that would have expedited the time for the judge to consider what Trump was asking for.

Trump’s legal team also failed to file statements — that is, statements from attorneys who allegedly interacted with the Justice Department before and after the search — to support the factual assertions in the complaint. .

Instead, the complaint retreads allegations about the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, while sensationally suggesting that the DOJ’s actions were motivated by a desire to obstruct a presidential election. from Trump in 2024. It also included the full text of a warning Trump allegedly sought to convey through his lawyers to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Schnapp said Trump’s Monday filing sounded more like a political message than a legal document.

“They really didn’t ask for anything. This is madness,” Schnapp said. “They didn’t ask for anything to be done immediately to slow it down, even though that’s what they claimed to be doing”

Trump’s decision to file a separate case that was assigned to Judge Cannon, rather than filing the request with the magistrate judge who signed the warrant, has also caused confusion among outside legal experts. It appears that Trump’s attorneys even ran into procedural issues with the filing of the lawsuit and with their attempts to appear in the case.

The clerk posted a notice on the docket stating that the complaint had been “conventionally filed” when it “should have been filed electronically”, according to local court rules.

Another notice from the clerk said Trump’s attorneys who requested special admission to appear in the case because they weren’t banned in Florida also failed to follow local rules in doing so. They had another chance to properly enter their appearances.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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