Trump allowed ‘special master’ in case over handling of classified documents

Donald Trump

A judge has granted Donald Trump’s demand for a “special master” to oversee the case into his handling of classified materials.

Mr Trump is being investigated for allegedly taking documents with him when he left the White House.

But the “special master” is an independent lawyer who decides if any of the records are covered by attorney-client or executive privilege.

The move is seen as a blow to prosecutors and a win for Mr Trump.

The former president had asked for the special master to be appointed, while prosecutors had strongly opposed it – and the appointment is likely to slow down the justice department’s ongoing criminal investigation.

That is because the judge has banned the government from reviewing or using the seized materials for its investigation until the special master’s independent review has been completed.

Department of Justice officials previously said that documents stored at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home were likely to have been concealed as part of an effort to obstruct an FBI investigation.

The authorities say these documents should have been handed over to the National Archives – which US presidents are legally obliged to do upon leaving office.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, denies any kind of wrongdoing, arguing that as president he had declassified all the documents, and that they were kept securely at his Mar-a-Lago home.

It is not clear how long the special master’s review will take.

Trump records probe timeline

  • January 2022 – The National Archives retrieves 15 boxes of White House records from Mar-a-Lago, and says some of the documents it received at the end of Trump administration had been torn up
  • February – Reports emerge that classified files were found in the Mar-a-Lago cache and National Archives has asked DoJ to investigate
  • April – US media report the FBI has begun a preliminary investigation
  • 3 June – A senior DoJ official and three FBI agents travel to Mar-a-Lago to review items in a basement. According to Mr Trump, he told them: “Whatever you need, just let us know”
  • 8 June – Federal investigators write to a Trump aide to ask that a stronger lock be used to secure the room storing the items. Trump says that request was quickly fulfilled
  • 22 June – The Trump Organization receives a DoJ summons for CCTV footage from Mar-a-Lago
  • 8 August – Dozens of agents search Mar-a-Lago, seizing more than 33 boxes, some containing top secret files, according to the warrant
  • 12 August – Warrant released, showing that 11 sets of classified documents were taken
  • 25 August – Judge orders justice department to release a redacted version of court papers that convinced him to authorise a search of the Trump estate


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