When Donald Trump waited two weeks to finally file a request for a special master in the DOJ criminal investigation into him, we said that it was probably too late to help him. Sure enough, the DOJ just told the judge that there would be no point in a special master because it’s already finished sorting the documents seized from Trump.
Two things stand out. First, the DOJ appears to have moved aggressively with its sorting, in case Trump tried this. Keep in mind that it seized a couple dozen boxes of documents, and there were only certain people who could work on the sorting due to its top secret classified nature. The DOJ must have set up things in advance such that once it did seize the documents, it would be able to move forward with them very quickly. This is what being “aggressive” really looks like – and it’s how the DOJ owned Trump in court today.
Second, Trump appears to have really blown it by wasting those first two weeks on a futile effort to get the names of the DOJ’s cooperative witnesses unsealed, which was never going to happen. By the time he got around to filing for a special master, it was too late.
We’ll see what the judge does. It’s possible she could still appoint a special master. But with the evidence already sorted, all a special master could do is look at the way it’s been sorted and sign off on it. And how long could that take? The work is already done.
We’re also left to wonder if perhaps this judge only decided to entertain Trump’s request for a special master so as to give the appearance of fairness to him, knowing that the DOJ would come back with something like this.
The key here continues to be that, even as the judge considers Trump’s motion, she has not ordered the DOJ to stop moving forward with the evidence. This means that, thus far at least, Trump hasn’t managed to delay things by a single minute. We’ll see how the judge ends up ruling.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report