DOJ, Trump lawyers submit choices for Mar-a-Lago raid special master, spar over scope

By | September 11, 2022

The United States government and the legal team of former President Trump have both submitted their preferred candidates to serve as an independent special master to review the records seized by the FBI during its unprecedented raid of Mar-a-Lago last month but the two sides disagree on the scope of duties that person would have.

The Justice Department submitted the names of two retired judges on Friday. The first judge, Barbara Jones, served on the federal bench in Manhattan and served as special master in high profile cases involving Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen. The second, Thomas Griffith, is a former federal appeals court jurist in the District of Columbia.

The Trump team proposed one retired judge, Raymond Dearie — also the former top federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York — and a prominent Florida lawyer, Paul Huck, Jr.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon had given both sides until Friday to submit potential candidates for the role of a special master, as well as proposals for the scope of the person’s duties and the schedule for his or her work.


Both parties say they will advise Judge Cannon about their respective positions on the other party’s proposed candidates on Monday, September 12, 2022. If the two sides can not agree on a candidate, Judge Cannon can appoint a candidate on her own.

Lawyers for Trump said they believe the so-called special master should review all documents seized by the FBI during its search last month of Mar-a-Lago, including records with classification markings, and filter out any that may be protected by claims of executive privilege.


The Justice Department, by contrast, said it does not believe the arbiter should be permitted to inspect classified records or resolve potential claims of executive privilege.

Fox News first reported this week that the FBI seized Trump’s medical records, documents with his accounting information and correspondence related to his taxes. 

Attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that keeps communications between an attorney and a client confidential. It is unclear, at this point, if the records include communications between the former president and his private attorneys, White House counsel during the Trump administration or a combination. 

FBI agents seized boxes containing records covered by attorney-client privilege and potentially executive privilege during the raid, sources told Fox News last month.

The government conducted the initial search of Trump’s home in response to what it believes to be a violation of federal laws: 18 USC 793 — Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information; 18 USC 2071 — Concealment, removal or mutilation; and 18 USC 1519 — Destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he personally approved the search of Trump’s home.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report