Judge Who Approved FBI Search Warrant Not Handling Trump Request for Special Master

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
August 23, 2022 Updated: August 23, 2022

The judge who approved the search warrant FBI agents executed on former President Donald Trump’s home is not handling Trump’s request for an independent party to be appointed, but could take over the request at some point.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart approved the warrant on Aug. 5, after reviewing a document called an affidavit in which an agent outlined why a warrant should be approved. Three days later, agents gathered at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach and seized materials from the estate.

Reinhart has come under fire from some for denigrating Trump in a Facebook post and for representing clients linked to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Reinhart spent years in private practice after serving as a U.S. prosecutor and before assuming his current position.

Reinhart was sworn in as a magistrate judge on March 14, 2017. Magistrate judges are picked by other judges.

Trump’s lawyers on Aug. 22 asked the same court, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, to appoint an independent party called a special master to look through the materials taken from Mar-a-Lago and separate any that could be privileged.

They also asked the court to order the government to stop reviewing the seized materials until a special master is appointed, to require the government to provide a more detailed inventory of what agents took from the estate, and to require the government to return any items that were seized that fell outside the scope of the search warrant.

Judge Cannon

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was confirmed in 2020 by the U.S. Senate in a 56–21 vote after Trump appointed her.

District judges are appointed by presidents, and the appointments are voted on by senators. A majority vote is needed to approve an appointment.

Before becoming a judge, Cannon was an assistant U.S. attorney in southern Florida. Prior to that, she worked in private practice.

In answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cannon said that judges should not credit the testimony of police officers simply because they are officers, and that the testimony of officers should not be given greater weight than other witnesses. She also said it was never appropriate for lower courts to depart from Supreme Court precedent.

Cannon has already entered one ruling in Trump’s case against the Justice Department. She declined filings by Trump’s attorneys Evan Corcoran and James Trusty to appear Pro Hac Vice (lawyers who are not certified in the district but who want to appear for the case in question). The filings did not follow the rules outlined for such appearances, according to Cannon.

Lindsey Halligan, a local lawyer, is also representing Trump.

Reinhart, meanwhile, could end up handling the case.

A docket entry says that parties were notified that Reinhart “is available to handle any or all proceedings in this case” and that, if parties agreed, they should complete and file a consent form to that effect.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.