Judge again sides with Trump in fight against Mar-a-Lago documents
In addition, Cannon rejected Dearie’s plan to require Trump to say at the start of the review whether he thinks the FBI’s inventory of seized materials is flawed, either omitting seized items, including items not seized, or both. Trump has repeatedly suggested, without providing evidence, that the FBI planted evidence at his home during the court-ordered search.
“There will be no separate requirement for the plaintiff at this stage, prior to the examination of any of the seized materials, to file ex ante final objections to the accuracy of the defendant’s inventory, descriptions or of its contents,” Cannon wrote.
Under Cannon’s decision, Trump will be allowed to raise such concerns later in the process. Cannon also scrapped Dearie’s plan to split the documents into sets and deal with objections as they come. Instead, there will be a deadline – which is expected to arrive in early November – whereby Trump’s side must outline which specific documents it believes are subject to solicitor-client privilege or executive privilege, as well as which ones it believes qualify as records presidential or personal records under the Presidential Records Act.
Prosecutors had originally asked for the review to be completed by mid-October, while Trump had offered a mid-December timeline. Cannon’s decision aligns with Trump’s preferred timeline, envisioning Dearie completing her job by Dec. 16. She would then raise each side’s objections to the master’s special decisions in a process that seems destined to spill over into 2023.
Thursday’s order is Cannon’s first major step in the process since last week, when a federal appeals court sharply overturned its decision to initially include about 100 documents with national security classification marks in the Dearie’s review. The DOJ had argued that Trump had no legitimate claim to the documents and that withholding them from the DOJ pending review would undermine efforts to determine whether the documents had been improperly viewed by unauthorized recipients.
The appeals court overturned Cannon’s refusal to restore DOJ access to those documents and made it clear that it considered its reasoning to be deeply flawed.
The back and forth over the mechanics of the process over the past two weeks has also exposed disagreements and apparent friction between Cannon, who spent less than two years on the bench, and Dearie, who spent more than 36 years. as a federal judge and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
Trump’s team proposed Dearie as one of two preferred choices for the special petty officer position. The government offered two other choices, but went along with Dearie.
The sheer volume of documents involved in the review remains murky. Cannon previously referred to about 11,000 documents, but Trump’s attorneys said in a court filing Wednesday that during a discussion about scanning and organizing the documents, prosecutors said up to 200,000 pages of documents could be involved.