Judge Gives Trump a Special Master

I expect an appeal. See “Judge Grants Trump’s Request for Special Master.”


A federal judge on Monday ordered a halt to the Justice Department’s review of materials seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, describing a threat to institutions and the risk of media leaks that could cause harm to Trump.

“Plaintiff faces an unquantifiable potential harm by way of improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,” U.S District Court Judge Aileen Cannon wrote in a 24-page ruling issued on Labor Day.

I haven’t read it yet, but here’s the ruling. And it’s a bit rich that the judge is so concerned about “improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public” after Trump may have been using classified documents as party favors at his country club.

The New York Times is saying that the judge’s order does not affect “a separate review of the documents being led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.” So the damage assessment is continuing.

It’s not clear to me if any consideration has been given to show this special master might be and what sort of security clearance the special master must have. (Update: I see here that Judge Cannon has ordered both camps to submit their proposed candidates for special master by September 9th. What happens if Trump proposes somebody who may be a security risk? What happens if the judge goes with Trump’s pick?)

Jennifer Rubin wrote last week,

 U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, a last-minute Trump nominee jammed through during the 2020 lame-duck session, seems to be contemplating a special master to review the documents one by one to see whether there is some basis for blocking them from prosecutors, even as the intelligence community feverishly conducts a national security review. (Trump is bizarrely asking the court to block the Justice Department from seeing what intelligence reviewers already are examining. One longs for the “unitary executive theory” to be applied consistently.)

But the real issue, Rubin says, is that Trump’s actions have created a national security crisis, and the nation needs to start acting like it. This is not primarily just a political story or even a legal story.