DOJ Supports One of Trump’s Nominees for Special Master

DOJ Supports One of Trump’s Nominees for Special Master
The Justice Department seal seen in Washington on June 29, 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Frank Fang

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has agreed to one of the special master nominees proposed by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to review documents seized by FBI agents from Mar-a-Lago.

In a four-page court filing (pdf) on Monday evening, the Justice Department said that Trump nominee Raymond J. Dearie would be an acceptable choice for an independent arbiter of the seized documents. The DOJ also named their two preferred nominees Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith.

The DOJ said the three candidates met the “important qualifications for this position” given their “previous judicial experience and engagement in relevant areas of law.”

“Judges Jones, Griffith, and Dearie each have substantial judicial experience, during which they have presided over federal criminal and civil cases, including federal cases involving national security and privilege concerns,” the filing says.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Sept. 5 granted Trump’s request to have a special master independently review seized documents that may be protected by attorney-client or executive privilege. On Sept. 9, the names of four candidates were revealed in a joint court filing.
Dearie began his federal judicial service in 1986, when he was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the Senate to be a U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of New York. In 2011, he assumed senior status on the court, allowing him to handle a reduced caseload in a semi-retired state.

Additionally, Dearie served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) from 2012 to 2019.

However, the DOJ rejected the Trump team’s other nominee.

“The government respectfully opposes the appointment of Paul Huck, Jr., who does not appear to have similar experience,” the filing says.

Huck, the founder of Huck Law firm, served as deputy attorney general in Florida from 2003 to 2007, and then was a general counsel to Charlie Crist for two years, who was a Republican at the time and the governor of Florida.

Earlier on Monday, Trump’s lawyers notified Cannon that they opposed the DOJ’s two nominees Jones and Griffith.

“There are specific reasons why those nominees are not preferred for service as Special Master in this case,” the lawyers stated in a three-page filing, without elaborating on the reasons for their opposition.

Instead, the lawyers asked “for permission to specifically express our objections to the Government’s nominees only at such time that the Court specifies a desire to obtain and consider that information.”

Jones, originally a nominee of former President Bill Clinton, is a retired federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She is currently a partner for Bracewell LLP.

Additionally, Jones served as a special master in cases involving Trump’s former attorneys, Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani, as well as the conservative citizen journalism project Project Veritas.

Griffith served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2005 to 2020, after he was nominated to the position by then-President George W. Bush.

It is not known when Cannon will make her decision on who the special master will be.

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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