DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Washington Post is reporting that a document recovered from former President Trump’s Florida estate contained information about the defense and nuclear capabilities of a foreign government.
The Post cited people familiar with the matter. They did not identify which foreign government.
The 300 classified documents now in the possession of the FBI were among 13,000 items retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. Donald Trump claims that they include documentation that falls under attorney client privilege.
“And in this case the special master was appointed by a federal district judge in Florida at President Trump’s request to review the materials that were seized by the FBI as part of its ongoing criminal investigation,” said Asher Hildebrand, associate professor of the practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.
The special master will be given among the highest levels of security clearance.
As they sift through everything, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the Department of Justice to pause its criminal investigation. However, the judge also said the Director of National Intelligence can continue the national security portion of the investigation.
That likely includes who had access to or may have seen some of America’s most sensitive material.
“That review is moving forward which is reassuring from a national security perspective but also kind of contradictory from a legal perspective because if that review can move forward the Department of Justice review of the same materials can also move forward,” said Hildebrand.
The decision to appoint a special master is receiving backlash from national security experts, as well lawyers and judges from both sides of the aisle including former Attorney General Bill Barr, who served under Trump.
“It’s very hard not to conclude that President Trump had them in his possession intentionally, that this was not some afterthought or oversight from a messy presidential transition. That they were there intentionally and that’s why you see a lot of national security officials, former judges including republican ones like Bill Barr saying, ‘hey this is beyond the pale’, this is too far, and we need to take it seriously,” said Hildebrand.
“Those are serious crimes in their own right and crimes for which you and I and your audience would probably not have the luxury of having a special master for. We’d probably already being having this conversation from somewhere that looks a little different than our offices here,” Hildebrand added.
North Carolinians may recall that special masters were ordered by the courts to redraw the state’s election maps before this year’s elections.
The people chosen for that role drew criticism from Republicans because they believed they were biased. It’s something Hildebrand said is already being perceived in the Mar-a-Lago case as a Trump appointed judge is who made the ruling.
“In an era where everything is partisan and everything is politicized, again that term independent might not mean the same that it once did,” he said.
The DOJ has not yet said whether it will appeal Judge Cannon’s decision.