US District Judge Raymond Dearie will serve as the special master tasked with reviewing the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Dearie – the only candidate for the role that both the Justice Department and former President Donald Trump’s legal team agreed on – was tapped for the position by US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday.
Here’s what you need to know about Dearie and the role he’ll play in the investigation.
Who is Raymond Dearie?
Dearie, a Reagan nominee, has served as a federal judge in New York since 1986. He retired in 2011 and is now a senior judge in the district.
He also served a seven-year term on the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court.
Dearie was one of the judges who approved an FBI and DOJ request to surveil Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, as part of the federal inquiry into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
The process that federal investigators used to secure the FISA warrants was riddled with errors and overall sloppiness, according to a DOJ inspector general report. Two of the four surveillance warrants granted by the secretive FISA court regarding Page have since been declared invalid – including one approved by Dearie in June 2017 – because of omissions and mistakes in the FBI’s submissions to the court.
The Trump team’s nomination of Dearie is notable because Trump has repeatedly criticized the FISA surveillance and has claimed – without evidence – that it was part of a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine his campaign.
What role will Dearie play?
A special master is a third-party attorney appointed by a court to oversee part of a certain case.
Dearie will specifically oversee the Justice Department’s review of the evidence gathered from Trump’s Florida residence and resort and filter out privileged material that may have been seized in the search.
Trump and the Justice Department, however, have disagreed on other key aspects of the special master review, including how long it should take, who is responsible for paying for it, and what type of documents are subject to review.
How long will Dearie have?
Cannon is giving Dearie a deadline of November 30 to finish his review of potentially privileged documents.
The DOJ had sought for the process to end in October, while Trump’s team said they preferred 90 days.
Cannon’s schedule means the review will end after the midterm congressional elections, essentially guaranteeing the Mar-a-Lago investigation will move slowly for the next two months, unless a higher court steps in.
She directed Dearie to prioritize sorting through potentially privileged classified records.
Why did Trump want a special master?
Trump’s legal team has broadly argued that a special master is necessary to ensure the Justice Department returns any of his private documents seized during the search of Mar-a-Lago.
The former President’s attorneys said his constitutional rights were violated, and that there may have been privileged materials seized.
But in court filings, Trump has not elaborated on what exactly he hoped a special master would filter out, besides general allusions to “privileged and potentially privileged materials.”
Beyond Dearie, Trump’s legal team had suggested lawyer Paul Huck Jr., a former partner at the Jones Day law firm, as special master – a proposal the DOJ disagreed with, noting he “does not appear to have similar experience” to Dearie and two retired federal judges the department put forth.
The DOJ’s position
Before Dearie’s selection, the Justice Department had put forward retired federal judges Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith to potentially serve in the role.
“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,” prosecutors wrote of Jones, Griffith and Dearie.
Dearie, however, was the only candidate both camps have agreed could serve as special master.
The Justice Department has argued that a special master shouldn’t touch any documents with classification markings and that the review shouldn’t include any executive privilege considerations.
The agency had challenged the need for a special master in court before Cannon sided with Trump. In legal filings, the DOJ said it had identified “a limited set of materials” from its search of documents taken from Mar-a-Lago that potentially contained material covered by attorney-client privilege and that it was already in the process of addressing privilege disputes.
This headline and story have been updated with the selection of Dearie as special master.
CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.