In a legal victory for former President Donald Trump, a federal judge on Monday granted his request for a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from his Florida home and also temporarily halted the Justice Department’s own use of the records for investigative purposes.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon authorizes an outside legal expert to review the records taken during the Aug. 8 search and to weed out from the rest of the investigation any that might be protected by claims of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.
Some of those records may ultimately be returned to Trump, but the judge put off a ruling on that question.
The order came despite the strenuous objections of the Justice Department, which said a special master was not necessary in part because officials had already completed their review of potentially privileged documents. The department said it was reviewing the decision
The order almost certainly slows the pace of the department’s investigation into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago, particularly given the judge’s directive that the Justice Department may not for the moment use any of the seized materials as part of its investigation into the storage of government secrets at the Florida property.
That injunction is in place until the yet-to-be-named special master completes his or her work, “or further court order.”