Former Attorney General Bill Barr criticized a federal judge’s ruling approving the appointment of a special master to review documents taken from Mar-a-Lago.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon granted former President Donald Trump’s request that a special master review the documents the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) seized during the Aug. 8 raid on Trump’s residence. Cannon also temporarily blocked the DOJ from further reviewing the documents.
Barr said the ruling was “deeply flawed” and should be appealed. He added that he doesn’t expect the appointment of a special master to make a significant difference in the case.
“The opinion, I think, was wrong and I think the government should appeal it,” he said. “It’s deeply flawed in a number of ways. I don’t think the appointment of a special master is gonna hold up, but even if it does, I don’t see it fundamentally changing the trajectory, right? In other words, I don’t think it changes the ball game so much as maybe we’ll have a rain delay for a couple of innings.”
“But I think that the fundamental dynamics of the case are set,” Barr continued. “The government has very strong evidence of what it really needs to determine whether charges are appropriate, which is: government documents were taken, classified information was taken and not handled appropriately and they are looking into — and there’s some evidence to suggest — that they were deceived and none of that really relates to the content of documents.”
Barr then argued that Trump cannot claim executive privilege for documents that belong to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and pointed to the question of whether a president can prevent the DOJ from reviewing particular documents. He said Cannon’s decision is “premature” and does not answer the question at stake.
“The dispute isn’t over whether this document is potentially executive privilege and this one isn’t. That’s not the dispute. The dispute is whether the president, even if it is executive privilege, can the president bar DOJ from reviewing the documents? And the answer to that, I think, is clearly no … Totally wrong, totally wrong,” he continued. (RELATED: MSNBC Host, Guests Melt Down Multiple Times Over Trump ‘Special Master Ruling’)
Barr added that he hopes the DOJ does not present the documents before a grand jury, but said the DOJ should have the ability to review the documents.
“For [Cannon] to come in now in sort of an abstract thing and say, ‘You guys got to decide what is potentially privileged,’ dodges the question which is, ‘Does the president have standing to assert the privilege against the existing administration?'” Barr said.