A judge swiftly appointed a special master to review documents taken by Trump from the White House – but Trump will have to pay for it

A judge swiftly appointed a special master to review documents taken by Trump from the White House – but Trump will have to pay for it
President Donald Trump returns to the White House from playing golf in Washington, DC on November 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election.ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
  • A Florida Judge has selected a special master in the DOJ's probe of White House docs Trump moved around.
  • The judge chose Raymond Dearie, a 78 year-old former judge that both sides agreed on.

A Florida judge has appointed a special master who will help determine the fate of a monumental Department of Justice probe into documents that former President Donald Trump stashed at Mar-a-Lago – and the nominee will review the most classified documents in the trove.

Judge Aileen Cannon denied the DOJ's request for at least 100 classified documents to be turned directly over to investigators instead of the special master, dealing an early blow to federal prosecutors in their probe, according to court documents filed Thursday evening.

The review process that experts worried could have dragged on into next year will have to be concluded by the end of November, according to the filings.

Cannon appointed Raymond Dearie, 78, former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, to act as special master.

"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," Cannon said in reference to the DOJ's ask related to classified documents.


Cannon said that Trump's team must cover the costs and the special master will have until November 30 to complete the review of documents that Trump could try to claim executive or attorney-client privilege over.

"Trump's team most likely will try to claim executive privilege over any documents that they believe would potentially compromise confidential White House communications," Mark Rozell, the Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University previously told Insider. "Executive privilege protects the right of the president to receive candid advice without fear of disclosure – the problem is that private citizen Donald Trump's claim to a continuing need for secrecy is difficult to prove."

Trump's case and the move to appoint a special master opened an unprecedented Pandora's box of concerns for national security experts.

Trump's team had previously rejected all of the DOJ's picks, and Dearie was the only candidate the two teams could agree on. With the involvement of delicate national security material, experts initially told Insider that the selection and review process for a special master could take months.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and said the DOJ's actions are political.


As it stands, the special master would be tasked with reviewing all of the documents that were lugged to Mar-A-Lago, including the 11,000 general records as well as the 100 documents marked as classified, with the goal of determining whether any of the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

It's still unclear if Dearie has, or would need, top secret special compartment and intelligence clearance, TSSCI, which is the highest level of national security clearance, for the review.