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Judge plans to appoint a ‘special master’ to review documents in Trump’s records case

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An aerial view of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said that FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 15, 2022.

Marco Bello | Reuters

A federal judge in Florida told the Justice Department on Saturday to provide her with more specific information about the classified records removed from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate and said it was her “preliminary intent” to appoint a special master in the case.

The two-page order from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon signals that she’s inclined to grant a request from Trump’s lawyers, who this week asked for the appointment of an independent special master to review the records taken from Mar-a-Lago and identify any that may be protected by executive privilege.

The judge scheduled a Thursday hearing to discuss the matter further. A special master is often a former judge.

Cannon also directed the Justice Department to file under seal with her more detailed descriptions of the material taken from Trump’s property. The former president’s lawyers have complained that investigators did not disclose enough information to them about what specific documents were removed when agents executed a search warrant on Aug. 8 to look for classified documents.

The special master appointment, if it happens, is unlikely to significantly affect the direction of the Justice Department investigation, though it’s possible an outside review of the documents could slow the probe down.

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