The Trump-appointed judge asked the former president to explain how and why the court should have jurisdiction to appoint a “special master” to review documents seized during an F.B.I. search of his Mar-a-Lago residence.
A federal judge has asked former President Donald Trump to explain how the court has jurisdiction to appoint a special master to review documents the F.B.I. seized from a recent search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
According to The Hill, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Judge Aileen Cannon issued an order directing Trump to clarify what the former president hopes his lawsuit against the federal Department of Justice will achieve.
Cannon also asked Trump’s legal team to clarify if they have already served the Justice Department with a copy of the lawsuit, as well as the lawsuit’s potential effect on another proceeding determining whether parts of the affidavit supporting the search warrant should be released.
The Hill reports that Cannon’s request was one of two brief orders issued by the court on Tuesday.
Cannon, adds The Hill, was appointed to her position by Trump in 2020.
Legal experts have suggested that Cannon’s requests are likely a sign that Trump’s lawsuit may soon implode.
“It’s never a good sign when within 24 hours of filing a motion with a friendly judge issues an order demanding you submit more information on why exactly you brought the matter to her in the first place,” national security attorney Bradley Mass wrote.
Business Insider notes that Trump’s lawsuit urged Cannon to appoint a third party—a “special master”—to review records seized from Mar-a-Lago, ostensibly to determine whether any of the documents are covered and protected by attorney-client privilege, executive privilege, and similar legal doctrines.
Trump’s legal team has asked the court to bar the Department of Justice from reviewing the seized materials until the special master can conduct a review.
The former president’s attorneys have also demanded a more detailed inventory of the items taken from Mar-a-Lago.
According to Insider, a manifest of the items—released publicly after the search—indicates that F.B.I. agents took, among other things, more than a dozen boxes of government records, some of which allegedly contain top-secret and highly classified materials.
“In its initial review of materials within those boxes, NARA identified items marked as classified national security information, up to the level of Top Secret and including Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Program materials,” U.S. National Archivist Debra Wall wrote in a letter republished by Politico.
The F.B.I. also retrieved “binders of photos,” a handwritten note, and the executive grant of clemency to Trump ally Roger Stone.
At least “one lawyer familiar with the Trump team’s thought process” told Business Insider that the ongoing investigation likely poses a significant risk to the former president.
“The classified documents case is an easy one,” the source told Insider. “It’s open and shut. He took an administrative issue and turned it into a full-blown criminal case.”