- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2022

The special master tasked with reviewing documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday asked a retired judge for assistance.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master, proposed in a court filing having James Orenstein, a retired New York federal magistrate judge, help him on the case. Judge Dearie did not specify how the ex-judge would provide him with assistance.

Judge Orenstein holds a top-secret clearance and has experience with complex cases, reviewing documents for attorney-client privilege, and served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to the court filing.



Judge Orenstein will be paid $500 per hour, the filing said. Mr. Trump is covering all the costs of the special master review, and Judge Dearie gave him and the Justice Department until Saturday to respond to the proposed staffing and compensation.

The filing also mapped out a schedule for Judge Dearie to complete his review of the 11,000 documents FBI agents seized during the Aug. 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago. He is tasked with deciding if any documents are protected by executive or attorney-client privilege. That would render them off limits to the Justice Department as it weighs possible criminal charges against Mr. Trump.

Under the proposed schedule, Mr. Trump and the Justice Department have a Friday deadline to agree on a vendor who will handle the documents electronically. Judge Dearie also set a Monday deadline for the government to make the documents available to him, with a spreadsheet to identify them.

Mr. Trump and the government were told to review the documents in three batches and get back to him about whether records are privileged by Oct. 7, 14, and 21.

If either side objects to how Judge Dearie labels the documents, they have seven days to file a complaint.

“A party may include a request for oral argument in its initial brief,” he wrote. “The Special Master will promptly issue a report and recommendation after briefing and oral argument has been completed.”

Judge Dearie signaled that he is still on track to finish his review by Nov. 30.

Thursday’s filing comes after a federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the documents for its criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump mishandled sensitive government materials.

The decision was a big loss for Mr. Trump who had hoped the special master review would delay the Justice Department probe. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta was authored by a three-judge panel that included two who were appointed by Mr. Trump.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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