Speed Reads

Loose ends

Trump's 'special master' review of seized Mar-a-Lago documents is officially dead

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday formally terminated the outside review of government documents seized from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in an August FBI raid. The appellate court had rejected the review by a "special master" a week earlier, but stayed its decision in case Trump appealed to the Supreme Court. He did not. So the Justice Department now has unfettered access to the nearly 3,000 records taken from Mar-a-Lago under a court-approved warrant.

Convincing a Trump-appointed lower-court judge to approve a special master to oversee the documents was an unexpected win for Trump and his legal team. And the gambit did delay the Justice Department's investigation of Trump's handling of sensitive government documents for several weeks. 

But it also "repeatedly backfired" on Trump, The New York Times reports. The 11th Circuit panel pulled the plug before the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, made any final recommendations, but "Trump still has to pay for nearly three months of work," including "hiring a vendor to scan about 13,000 documents and photographs, and paying for an assistant who billed $550 an hour." At the same time, because Dearie didn't rule on Trump's various claims of privilege, his lawyers can raise them again in court if the Justice Department files charges against Trump.