In a late Monday court filing, the Department of Justice said it would accept one of former President Trump’s proposed judges to be appointed special master to review the records seized during the FBI’s August raid of Mar-a-Lago.
The DOJ wrote in its court filing that it believes Raymond J. Dearie, a former federal judge in New York is well qualified for the position. The DOJ also made two recommendations for the high-profile appointment, retired federal judges Barbara S. Jones and Thomas B. Griffith.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“Judges Jones, Griffith, and Dearie each have substantial judicial experience, during which they have presided over federal criminal and civil cases, including federal cases involving national security and privilege concerns,” the Justice Department wrote in its filing.
Despite there being a rare agreement between Trump’s team and the DOJ it’s unclear if Judge Cannon will listen to the two parties’ request.
Dearie is a former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York who also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He was also among the FISA judges who signed an order approving electronic surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump aide, as part of the FBI’s investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
Trump’s team also recommended Paul Huck Jr., who served as general counsel to former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. However, the Justice Department opposed Mr. Huck because he doesn’t have similar experience to the other candidates.
The DOJ also proposed Barbara Jones, who is a retired federal judge from the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. She served as the special master who reviewed materials seized from Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. The retired judge once again served as special master when then-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s New York office and home were raided.
The Justice Department’s other candidate, Thomas Griffith, is a retired judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appointed by former President George W. Bush. He most recently served on President Biden’s commission to study changes to the Supreme Court bench.
In a Monday court filing, Trump’s legal team noted it does not trust the DOJ to accurately represent what was recovered in the classified documents.
“The Government has not proven these records remain classified. That issue is to be determined later,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote in a Monday morning filing to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.
“In opposing any neutral review of the seized materials, the Government seeks to block a reasonable first step toward restoring order from chaos and increasing public confidence in the integrity of the process,” the Trump legal team said, adding that the issue “at its core is a document storage dispute.’’
In a separate filing Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump’s lawyers said they oppose the two Justice Department candidates for the special master role, and asked to explain their reasoning privately before the court to be “more respectful to the candidates.” The filing said only that they believe “there are specific reasons why those nominees are not preferred for service as Special Master in this case.”
Judge Cannon granted Trump’s request for a special master last Monday, issuing a stay on the DOJ’s investigation of the seized materials. In response, the DOJ filed a motion for an appeal to continue its review of Trump’s handling of presidential documents and classified materials.
Trump’s legal team responded and accused the DOJ of seeking to “limit the scope of any review of its investigative conduct and presuppose the outcome, at least in regard to what it deems are ‘classified records.’”
“This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is both unprecedented and misguided,” Trump’s lawyers said in the filing. “In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records.”
“The Government should therefore not be permitted to skip the process and proceed straight to a preordained conclusion,” they wrote.
Judge Cannon has not revealed when a final decision will be announced in regard to the special master appointment or if she will seriously consider any of the candidates proposed by Trump or the Justice Department.