Who Is Special Master in The Trump DOJ Case and What Will He Do?

Who is this “special master” that Judge Aileen Cannon appointed to be an independent arbiter in reviewing the documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida?

His name is Raymond Dearie and he is a senior district judge for the Eastern District of New York. He will take responsibility to search through all of the materials taken by the FBI during the August 8 raid on Trump’s home, including the 100 documents that are considered classified. 

He was one of two possibilities that were recommended by Trump’s legal team to serve as special master. The Department of Justice also submitted two candidates for Judge Cannon to consider, but they considered Dearie an adequate option with substantial judicial experience. 

The Department of Justice still maintains that it was unnecessary to appoint a special master and it will certainly delay the government’s review process. They have also said that this decision will cause irreparable harm to the national security and intelligence interests of our country. 

The DOJ appealed to the 11th Circuit for a partial stay on Judge Cannon’s order because the government was now unable to use the classified documents in their ongoing criminal investigation. The department is asking the appeals court to allow them to keep working with the classified material and not disclose them for review by Dearie. 

Here is a basic profile of Raymond Dearie, he is 78 years old and graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 1969. After graduation, he served in private practice and then moved into the United States Attorney’s Office in the Easter District of New York. Dearie served for six years as the chief of the appeals division.

While serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, he was asked by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 to serve on the federal bench. Dearie became the chief judge of the US. District Court in the Eastern District of New York for four years and then took on senior status in 2011. He also served on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court). They look at applications from the government for the collection of electronic surveillance or physical searches. 

While on the FISA court, Dearie approved a warrant for the DOJ and FBI to surveil Carter Page. He was a former campaign aide for Trump. This happened during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after the 2016 election. This ruling by FISA brought criticism by Trump and other GOP allies. 

What The Appointed Special Master Will Be Doing Now

Dearie will now be analyzing the seized materials from Mar-a-Lago for any materials that are personal and he will be examining documents to look for certain types of privileges including attorney-client and executive privilege. These items should not be used in a Department of Justice criminal investigation. 

According to Judge Cannon, the special master will prioritize reviewing the classified documents and she requested that the department submit interim reports and recommendations. 

Dearie was given 10 days by Judge Cannon to consult with lawyers for both the DOJ and Trump’s legal team. He is then supposed to give the judge a timeline for his review. 

The DOJ argued in court that Dearie was not needed because a “filter team” had already completed a review of the material, even those that may be a part of attorney-client privilege. They also questioned whether former President Trump’s claims of executive privilege were warranted since he is no longer in office. A president can use this privilege to shield communications from courts or Congress. 

Dearie has until November 30 to finish the process, this is several weeks longer than the DOJ wanted. 

Judge Cannon ruled that Trump is 100% responsible for “the professional fees and expenses of the Special Master and any professionals, support staff, and expert consultants engaged at the Special Master’s request.”