In a filing late Monday, the Justice Department agreed to one of the choices for a special master put forward by former president Donald Trump to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Judge Raymond J. Dearie, who was one of two choices submitted by Trump’s legal team, would review all of the documents if Judge Aileen Cannon approves the pick. Cannon had previously requested that both Trump and the Justice Department offer up candidates to serve as special master.
According to the Washington Post, Dearie has a long record of serving in the criminal justice system.
Dearie, 78, still serves as a judge in Brooklyn federal court, albeit on senior status, which means he can take a reduced caseload if he chooses. He was the U.S Attorney in Brooklyn in the 1980s — a time when the office’s workload was dominated by the pursuit of mobsters, gang leaders, and financial fraudsters. Dearie was nominated to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan and became one of the most highly-regarded jurists in the Eastern District of New York. He previously served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees sensitive national security cases.
The Justice Department maintains in its filing that it does not think a special master is needed and that such an appointment would impede its investigation. However, it’s a signal that the DOJ is willing to allow things to move forward. The ball, however, is current in Cannon’s court.
It now falls to Cannon to decide whether Dearie will, in fact, be the special master, and resolve as-yet-unsettled disputes about how he should proceed, including who will pay for the special master’s work, whether the review will include an examination of classified documents, and whether to lift, at least temporarily, the judge’s prior restriction barring the FBI from using those documents in its ongoing investigation.
How the judge rules on those outstanding issues could well determine whether Trump’s fight with the Justice Department gets further entangled with appeals.
Trump and his legal team maintain that at least some of the documents in question are not actually classified and that the materials rightfully belong to the former president.