Judge’s ruling on Donald Trump’s special master torn apart by legal experts


Several legal experts have expressed dismay at the appointment of a special master to review documents discovered by federal authorities last month in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

Surprise Labor Day order issued by Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon appeases Trump’s attorneys, who initially made the request due to ‘allegedly privileged’ documents that may involve communication presidential with advisers. The ruling not only allows an independent expert to review some 13,000 records, but also halts the ongoing criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Lawyer and former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal said Monday that “any of my first-year law students would have written a better opinion.”

He took particular umbrage at Cannon’s reference to potential ‘reputational harm’ to Trump in the investigation, arguing that every criminal defendant suffers reputational damage and yet not all cases require a special master.

“Judge [Cannon] order the entire investigation as some items may be subject to executive privilege,” Katyal said as part of the a series of tweets. “But Executive Priv is not a post-presidential privilege that allows presidents to retain documents after leaving office. At most, it just means that they are executive documents that must be returned to the archives. This does not in any way shape or mean that they cannot be used in a criminal prosecution regarding stolen documents.”

Cannon’s order finding that “a tiny percentage of materials could be privileged,” Katyal said, brings the investigation to a complete halt.

“It’s a bazooka when all you need is a scalpel,” he added.

Above is Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. A special captain will be appointed to review thousands of documents seized in August by federal agents at Mar-a-Lago.
GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney Seth Abramson echoed Katyal’s thoughts, writing on Twitter that “nearly every criminal defendant in the history of criminal defendants anywhere in the world” believed they were being treated unfairly at some point.

“Trump appointee Aileen Cannon has said – and not just implicitly, but, horribly, *explicitly* – that Donald Trump’s reputation *matters* more than yours or mine, as do his rights to property “, Abramson tweeted. “And they matter more because he’s a powerful man.”

Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute alleged in a tweet that Cannon “engaged in obstruction of justice” simply by taking the case – which was originally overseen by a magistrate judge who presides in a jurisdiction near Mar-a-Lago, closer than Cannon she -same.

Lawyer Jonathan Turley disagreed, calling the master’s special appointment “the right decisionHe said Attorney General Merrick Garland missed many opportunities to “gain the public’s trust” regarding the search for documents and the investigation, including opting for a search warrant over a second subpoena.

“The Department of Justice dramatically overplayed its game by claiming that the appointment would threaten national security or that there was no legal basis for such an appointment,” Turley tweeted. “These were the same assertions used to oppose any disclosure of information in the redacted affidavit – only to be forced to release such a document without compromising national security.”

Trump was active on his Truth Social account on Monday, calling the FBI and DOJ “totally corrupt” and saying that “many sinister and evil outside sources” are reducing the United States “to being a Third World nation.”


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