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US Justice Department to respond to request for special master for Trump documents

Trump legal team hires new attorney, Chris Kise
Posted at 1:05 PM, Aug 30, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is set to respond Tuesday to the Trump legal team's request for a special master to review the documents seized during an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago this month.

The filing is due ahead of a Thursday hearing in which U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is set to hear arguments on the matter.

Trump's lawyers last week asked for the appointment of a special master who'd be tasked with reviewing the records taken during the Aug. 8 search of Trump's Florida property and setting aside documents protected by claims of legal privilege.

Adriane Shochet stands on a bridge outside the entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Adriane Shochet stands on a bridge outside the entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. The FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Monday.

Cannon on Saturday said it was her "preliminary intent" to appoint such a person but also gave the Justice Department an opportunity to respond.

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On Monday, the department said it had already completed its review of potentially privileged documents and identified a "limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information."

In a separate development, the Trump legal team has grown with the addition of another attorney. Chris Kise, Florida's former solicitor general, has joined the team of lawyers representing Trump, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss the move by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Kise did not return messages seeking comment.

NBC political reporter Marc Caputo speaks on Mar-a-Lago case
NBC political reporter Marc Caputo shares his thoughts on the ongoing case involving documents seized from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

NBC political reporter Marc Caputo spoke with WPTV about the case.

"DOJ is preparing something like a 40-page rebuttal to Trump's filing, so DOJ, I think, is recognizing that some of this battle it has to fight in the court of public opinion," Caputo said. "It usually prefers not to do it, but the reality is that's where Trump is really taking them and calling them out so to speak."

Legal experts said a special master is unusual and rare.

David Weinstein, a former assistant U.S. attorney in South Florida, discussed how a special master would work in this case.

"They set up a procedure where they identify potential attorney-client privilege documents that would be segregated and never be shown to law enforcement," Weinstein said. "And on top of that, they would be turned over to the person who would then be able to claim the privilege."

Caputo said Kise has solid legal credentials and also political history.

"Before the 2018 political elections, he was instrumental in leaking and quite openly so, damaging information about Andrew Gillum, the democrat who ran for governor," Caputo said.

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Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.