Trump special master hearing: DOJ, Trump facing off in court

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Lawyers for the Justice Department and former President Donald Trump are in federal court here Thursday afternoon, arguing over whether a judge should appoint a special master to review materials the FBI seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club last month.

US District Judge Aileen M. Cannon signaled over the weekend that she was inclined to appoint the special master, but instructed the government to present its case againstming one in a filing ahead of the hearing.

Reporters are present for the hearing but according to the rules of the court cannot send updates while it is underway.

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In a blistering response to the Trump request late Tuesday, the Justice Department said a special master is unnecessary, and the unprecedented FBI search of a former president’s home was justified. The filing alleged that Trump and his advisers repeatedly failed to turn over highly classified government documents even after receiving a subpoena and pledging that a “diligent search” had been conducted, leading to the Aug. 8 raid that found more than 100 additional classified items.

Trump’s acting team after he has accused the Justice Department of politically in its investigation into the former president’s possible mishandling of classified he left the White House. Their legal filings argue that the government seized documents it has no right to and that a neutral outside expert could sift through the material and set aside any that should be shielded from government review because of privilege.

“Three weeks after an unprecedented, unnecessary, and legally unsupported raid on the home of a President — and possibly a candidate against the current chief executive in 2024,” Trump’s legal team wrote in a filing Wednesday night, “the Government … has filed an extraordinary document with this Court, suggesting that the DOJ, and the DOJ alone, should be entrusted with the responsibility of evaluating its unjustified pursuit of criminalizing a former President’s possession of personal and Presidential records in a secure setting.”

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After hearing arguments on Thursday afternoon, Cannon could issue a ruling from the bench. She also could rule later, in writing.

The Justice Department has told Cannon its “filter team” review of potentially privileged documents is already complete.

Chris Kise, the newest addition to Trump’s legal team and a former Florida solicitor general, was formally added as co-counsel to the former president in a filing Thursday morning and joined other attorneys in the courtroom ahead of the hearing.

Kise signed a multimillion-dollar contract to join Trump’s team, according to people familiar with the hire, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive aspects of Trump’s legal case.

The people said Kise, who left the law firm Foley and Lardner to take the job with Trump, was given assurances that he would be taking a “lead” role in the case.

Josh Dawsey and Ann Marimow contributed to this report.

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