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US Court blocks review of classified records from former US President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate

Court grants Trump's request, appoints veteran New York judge as special master

trump ap Donald Trump | AP

A federal judge blocked the Justice Department from any further review of records seized from former US President Donald Trump's Florida property. The Court also granted Trump's request and appointed a special master to review the documents.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, ordered the Justice Department to halt its review of the documents for investigative purposes until a further Court order or until the special master completes their review.

The selection of Raymond Dearie, a former federal prosecutor who for years served as the chief judge of the federal court based in Brooklyn, came after both the Justice Department and Trump's lawyers made clear that they would be satisfied with his appointment as a so-called special master.

The Judge observed, "The court does not find it appropriate to accept the government's conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion." Reuters reported quoting the Judge that she would be instructing Dearie to prioritize reviewing the classified records first and to complete the review of all seized materials by November 30. 

As special master, Dearie will be responsible for reviewing the documents taken during the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago and segregating out any that may be covered by claims of privilege.

The Justice Department is investigating the hoarding of top-secret materials and other classified documents at the Florida property after Trump left office. The FBI says it recovered more than 11,000 documents from the home during its August 8 search, including over 100 with classification markings.

Trump's lawyers had asked last month for a judge to name a special master to do an independent review of the records and segregate any that may be covered by claims of executive privilege or attorney-client privilege. The Justice Department argued the appointment was unnecessary, saying it had already done its own review and Trump had no right to raise executive privilege claims that ordinarily permit the president to withhold certain information from the public and Congress.

Dearie served as the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York from 1982 to 1986, at which point he was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan. He has also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes Justice Department wiretap applications in investigations involving suspected agents of a foreign power.

He took senior status in 2011, but the Justice Department has said he remains active and had indicated to officials that he was available for the position and could work expeditiously if appointed to it.

(With inputs from PTI)

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