A federal judge on Monday granted a request by Donald Trump to appoint a special master to review records the FBI seized from his Florida home, a move that could delay the investigation into whether the former president mishandled classified documents.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in West Palm Beach, Fla., said the court allowed the appointment to examine personal items, documents and materials subject to attorney-client privilege claims. Cannon was appointed by Trump in 2020, just months before leaving office.
The clearance came days after the US Department of Justice, in a court filing, alleged that Trump’s custodian of records, who was not named, had falsely certified that the former president had returned all records. of the government. The department also said it had evidence that classified documents were deliberately withheld from the FBI.
Trump is under investigation for removing government documents, some of which were marked as highly classified, from the White House and storing them at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.
Below is a timeline of key events from the probe:
January 20, 2021
Trump leaves the White House as Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as the nation’s 46th president and heads to his private Florida estate known as Mar-a-Lago.
The National Archives and Records Administration, also known as NARA, emails Trump’s lawyers, notifying them that some two dozen boxes of original documents have not been turned over, according to The Washington Post.
A representative for Trump told the National Archives “they have located documents,” according to a statement later released by the National Archives.
The National Archives recovers 15 boxes of presidential records from Trump’s estate.
The nonpartisan Presidential Archives Agency said it “has identified items marked as classified national security information, up to the Top Secret level and including compartmented sensitive information and Special Access Program documents.” and had requested permission to alert the FBI.
February 8, 2022
The National Archives releases a public statement saying it is still searching for more Trump presidential records, a day later The Washington Post reported that the boxes were picked up in Florida.
February 10, 2022
The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee announces an investigation into Trump’s handling of the documents, later expanding its investigation in a Feb. 24 letter to the agency.
The New York Times reports that White House staff periodically found piles of documents clogging White House toilets, an accusation Trump has declared false. Journalist Maggie Haberman later posts photos of some of the alleged documents found.
February 18, 2022
The National Archives told Congress that Trump took classified information home to Florida after leaving the White House.
April 7, 2022
Sources confirm to Reuters that the US Department of Justice is investigating Trump’s removal of official presidential records from the White House.
April 11, 2022
The Office of the White House Legal Counsel under Biden is formally asking the National Archives to give the FBI access to the 15 boxes. The National Archives informs Trump’s representatives of the FBI’s examination in an April 12 letter.
April 29 and May 1, 2022
Trump’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, seeks to delay disclosure to the FBI in two letters sent to the National Archives.
May 10, 2022
Acting U.S. Archivist Debra Steidel Wall responds to Corcoran, rejecting Trump’s requested delay and denying his “claim of ‘protective’ privilege, adding that the FBI can access the records as early as May 12. The letter is made public on August 23 and notes hundreds of pages of classified documents have been recovered so far.
May 11, 2022
Jay Bratt, head of counterintelligence and export controls at the National Security Division of the U.S. Justice Department, is asking that the custodian of Trump’s records appear before a federal grand jury in Washington, according to Tuesday’s filing. Bratt, in a separate letter to Corcoran, says the representative can comply with the subpoena by giving the FBI “any relevant documents” and an affidavit, instead of appearing in court. The grand jury investigation was first reported by The New York Times.
June 3, 2022
A Trump representative, whose name is redacted in the Justice Department filing, says “a diligent search” was conducted for documents at Mar-a-Lago removed from the White House and that “all documents correspondents accompany this certification”.
August 8, 2022
Federal agents execute a search warrant at Trump’s property in Florida, discovering 13 boxes or containers containing documents marked classified – “more than double the amount produced on June 3 in response to the grand jury subpoena.” Trump was not at the property at the time, and media showed him at Trump Tower in Manhattan.
A photo released in a court filing later that month shows some of the seized documents with clear markings of “Top Secret” and “Secret”.
Trump, in an online message, says the records have been “all declassified” and placed in “secure storage.” A day later, Trump, who continues to hint at a possible 2024 presidential bid, cites FBI research in a fundraising campaign appeal.
August 12, 2022
The FBI’s search warrant is made public after approval by US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.
August 22, 2022
Two weeks after the FBI raid, Trump is separately asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for a so-called special master to review the documents, prompting the Justice Department’s 54-page response on Tuesday.
The next day, the National Archives releases its May 10 letter to Trump’s attorney.
August 26, 2022
The Justice Department releases a heavily redacted affidavit — a sworn statement outlining evidence giving law enforcement officials a likely reason to ask a judge to approve a search warrant — after media outlets continued his publication. A judge approved his release.
August 30, 2022
The department files its response to Trump’s request for a special main review.
September 1, 2022
At a hearing in West Palm Beach, Cannon suggests she is willing to grant Trump’s request and appoint a special master to review the documents.
September 2, 2022
The FBI reveals in a court filing that it recovered more than 11,000 government documents and photographs during the Aug. 8 search of Trump’s estate, along with 48 empty files labeled as “classified.”
US judge agrees to appoint special master in Trump search case.