A federal judge on Monday granted a request by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to appoint a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from his Florida home last month and also temporarily halted the Justice Department’s use of the records for investigative purposes.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon came despite the objections of the Justice Department, which said an outside legal expert was not necessary in part because officials had already completed their review of potentially privileged documents. The judge had previously signaled her inclination to approve a special master, asking a department lawyer during arguments this month, “What is the harm?”
The appointment is likely to slow the pace of the department’s investigation into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago given the judge’s directive that the Justice Department may not for the moment use any of the seized materials for investigative purposes. But it is not clear that it will have any significant effect on any investigative decisions or the ultimate outcome of the probe.
Cannon, who was nominated to the bench by Trump in 2020, said she would permit the continuation of a risk assessment of the documents being conducted by the U.S. intelligence community.