A judge appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled Thursday that Trump does not have to submit a sworn statement identifying any evidence he believes the FBI might have planted when federal agents executed a search warrant at his Florida estate last month.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon effectively overrules a directive from the special master she named to review evidence the FBI seized in the search Aug. 8. The special master, Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of New York, last week ordered Trump’s team to submit a “declaration or affidavit” about whether anything on the FBI’s list of items removed from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach had not been “seized from the Premises,” meaning items that were put there by someone else.
Trump has publicly insinuated several times without offering any proof that federal agents planted evidence during their search, which the Justice Department has said turned up 100 classified, secret and top-secret documents, as well as thousands of other documents it says belong to the government.
Dearie, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, initially gave Trump’s team a deadline of this Friday to submit a sworn statement about the issue, but he pushed the deadline back to next week after there was a delay in getting a vendor who could share the documents with both parties in the case. Before Thursday, he had been expected to push the deadline back again.
In her ruling, Cannon suggested she believed Dearie had overstepped with his directive. Trump’s lawyers had objected to the special master’s order.
“There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff at this stage, prior to the review of any of the Seized Materials, to lodge ex ante final objections to the accuracy of Defendant’s Inventory, its descriptions, or its contents. The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation,” Cannon wrote Thursday.
She added that if any issues surface during the review process “that require reconsideration of the Inventory or the need to object to its contents, the parties shall make those matters known to the Special Master for appropriate resolution and recommendation to this Court.”
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