A retired federal judge who once approved surveillance on the Trump 2016 presidential campaign cleared a key hurdle Monday to act as the special master tasked with reviewing documents related to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a court filing Monday that it would would accept the appointment of retired Federal District Court Judge Raymond J. Dearie to review the documents taken from the former president’s Florida home during the August raid, The New York Times reported.
Dearie served seven years on the FISA court and was one of the judges that approved the DOJ’s request to surveil Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, according to CNN. One of the FISA warrants approved by Dearie was later declared invalid because of the sloppiness of federal investigators, CNN noted.
Monday’s development marks a reversal for the DOJ, which suggested its own special master candidates on Friday. In a joint filing, the DOJ put forward two retired federal judges, Barbara S. Jones and Thomas B. Griffith, while Trump’s team countered with Dearie and Paul Huck Jr., a former Florida deputy attorney general, CNN reported. (RELATED: Trump Lawyers Oppose DOJ’s Request To Review Classified Mar-A-Lago Documents)
The decision now rests in the hands of Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Trump appointee.
Cannon granted Trump’s request for a special master on Sept. 5 after his lawyers argued that the Mar-a-Lago raid was politically motivated and that the DOJ would “leak” documents covered by attorney-client privilege.
“Left unchecked, the DOJ will impugn, leak, and publicize selective aspects of their investigation with no recourse for [Trump] but to somehow trust the self-restraint of currently unchecked investigators,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. The DOJ tried to block the appointment of a special master, arguing it threatened national security. On Thursday, the DOJ appealed the ruling and asked Cannon to stay her order halting the agency’s review of seized documents, CNBC reported.