The Daily Telegraph

Judge halts inquiry into Trump papers

Small victory for former president as judge grants request for independen­t review of documents

- By Nick Allen in Washington

The FBI will have to temporaril­y halt its investigat­ion of top-secret documents found at Donald Trump’s home after a court granted his request for an independen­t review. A judge in Florida agreed to appoint a “special master” to review documents found at Mar-a-lago. The Department of Justice had argued it was not in the interests of national security. Mr Trump said last night: “Remember, it takes courage and ‘guts’ to fight a totally corrupt Department of ‘Justice’ and the FBI.”

‘A special master shall be appointed to review the seized property and manage assertions of privilege’

THE FBI will have to temporaril­y halt its investigat­ion of top secret documents found at Donald Trump’s home after a court granted the former president’s request for an independen­t review.

A judge in Florida agreed to appoint a “special master” to review documents found at his Mar-a-lago estate. The Department of Justice had argued that appointing a special master was not in the interests of national security. It also said a government team had done an initial screening of the files.

The decision means the FBI will be stopped, for the moment, from using documents seized in a raid on Aug 8 for investigat­ive purposes.

In a statement, Mr Trump said last night: “Remember, it takes courage and ‘guts’ to fight a totally corrupt Department of ‘Justice’ and the FBI.

“Until impartiali­ty, wisdom, fairness, and courage are shown by them, our country can never come back or recover – it will be reduced to being a Third World Nation!”

Mr Trump wants the special master to assess if any are protected from being used by the FBI because they are covered by executive privilege, or attorneycl­ient privilege.

In her 24-page order, Judge Aileen Cannon wrote: “A special master shall be appointed to review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommenda­tions thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property.

“The Government is temporaril­y enjoined from further review and use of any of the materials seized from Plaintiff ’s residence on August 8, 2022, for criminal investigat­ive purposes, pending resolution of the special master’s review process.”

The judge gave both sides until Friday to find candidates for the role of special master, which is usually filled by an outside lawyer or retired judge.

According to court documents, the FBI found highly classified government documents in Mr Trump’s personal office.

A list of what was seized showed Mr Trump had kept more than 11,000 unclassifi­ed government records which, the DOJ said, are legally owned by the National Archives. The appointmen­t of a special master will slow down the investigat­ion into whether laws including the Espionage Act were broken as documents were removed from the White House.

The Florida judge who made the order was nominated to the bench by Mr Trump in 2020. She wrote: “The court is mindful that restraints on criminal prosecutio­ns are disfavoure­d, but finds that these unpreceden­ted circumstan­ces call for a brief pause to allow for neutral, third-party review to ensure a just process with adequate safeguards.”

The US intelligen­ce community is separately assessing the risk posed by the discovery of the documents, which will continue. Neither the DOJ nor Mr Trump’s legal team offered immediate comment. Mr Trump’s lawyers have said an independen­t review of the documents is also necessary so any personal informatio­n mixed in with them, like “medical documents, correspond­ence related to taxes, and accounting informatio­n” can be returned to him.

The DOJ has said it is also investigat­ing possible obstructio­n. According to the DOJ, members of Mr Trump’s team certified on June 3 that they had returned all classified materials to the government. In the raid two months later, more than 100 records marked as classified were found.

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