The U.S. government has informed former President Donald Trump’s legal team that it will oppose any move for a so-called special master amid allegations that privileged materials were seized by federal agents from Trump’s Florida resort.
Trump’s attorneys gave the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) “a heads up that they wanted to ask for a special master in this case,” Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, said on Newsmax on Aug. 15.
The DOJ “did indicate to our attorneys that they were going to oppose that,” she added.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A special master is an independent lawyer, typically a retired judge, who is appointed by the judge overseeing a case when concerns about privileged materials are raised.
In recent years, special masters have been inserted into cases involving Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani and the nonprofit journalism group Project Veritas, after FBI agents seized materials from Giuliani and top Project Veritas officials.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, an Obama appointee, appointed the special master in the latter case over the objections of the government to “ensure ‘the perception of fairness.’”
A number of Republicans, among others, have said Trump is being unfairly targeted by the government for political reasons.
Trump’s team has not formally asked the federal court in southern Florida, which approved the search warrant that FBI agents expected at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8, for a special master.
“A decision will be made soon,” Habba said on Newsmax. “Optically, it’s a good idea. I think that you need to look impartial, especially given the negative impact that this has had on the country right now. I would try and look as open to having as much transparency as possible.”
Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform that the FBI took “privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material” from Mar-a-Lago.
Privileged material includes that protected by laws shielding interactions between clients and their counsel, as well as work products prepared in certain contexts.