WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday appointed a veteran New York jurist to serve as an independent arbiter in the criminal investigation into the presence of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, and refused to permit the Justice Department to resume its use of the highly sensitive records seized in an FBI search last month.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon empowered the newly named special master, Raymond Dearie, to review the entire tranche of records taken in the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago and set a November deadline for his work. In the meantime, she continued to block the department from using for its investigation roughly 100 documents marked as classified that were seized.
The sharply worded order from Cannon, a Trump appointee, will almost certainly slow the pace of the investigation and set the stage for a challenge to a federal appeals court. The department had given Cannon until Thursday to put on hold her order pausing investigators’ review of classified records while the special master completes his work. The department said it would ask the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene if she did not do so by then.