Regrets, Trump and his bottom-of-the-barrel legal team have a few:
But Mr. Trump’s apparent triumph would prove short-lived. An appeals court ruling last week and a letter the Justice Department filed late Tuesday about subsequent complaints his legal team has apparently filed under seal to Judge Dearie suggest that the upsides to obtaining a special master are eroding and the disadvantages swelling.
A lawyer for Mr. Trump did not respond to a request for comment.
The appeals court freed the Justice Department to resume using about 100 documents marked as classified in its investigation, while telegraphing that the court thought Judge Cannon likely erred by appointing a special master.
In blocking part of Judge Cannon’s order, the appeals court panel, including two Trump appointees, allowed investigators to again scrutinize the material that poses by far the gravest legal threat to Mr. Trump. Potential crimes include unlawful retention of national security secrets, obstruction and defying a subpoena demanding all sensitive records that remained in his possession.
But the Justice Department acquiesced for now to the remainder of the special master process, meaning that an outside arbiter would still assess some 11,000 unclassified records and other items seized from Mr. Trump’s Florida compound, Mar-a-Lago.
Since that review is no longer delaying or diverting the criminal inquiry, it is not clear what benefits remain for Mr. Trump.
It’s not as if this strategy was absolutely doomed to fail — Aileen Cannon is not the only Aileen Cannon who is part of the federal judiciary. But the obvious risk is that if you just drew an ordinary conservative judge — one who will reach partisan results in politically salient cases when they can, but are reluctant to just ignore black letter law — you could be in a lot of trouble. And with both Dearie and the 11CA panel, that’s exactly what happened. But this is the kind of problem that can arise when only the lawyer equivalents of Aileen Cannon are willing to take your case.