- Bill Bar said it’s unlikely a special master will compromise the outcome of the Mar-a-Lago probe.
- The former attorney general said the DOJ still has “very strong evidence” at its disposal.
- At the same time, he blasted a judge’s decision to appoint a special master in the case.
Former Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday that it’s unlikely the appointment of a special master would impact the most important aspects of the Department of Justice’s investigation into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents.
“I don’t think the appointment of a special master is going to hold up, but even if it does, I don’t see it fundamentally changing the trajectory,” said Barr, who served as attorney general under Trump, on the Fox News show “The Story with Martha McCallum.”
Barr said he believed the “fundamental dynamics of the case are set” and that the government has “very strong evidence” to help it decide whether or not to charge Trump.
“I don’t think it changes the ballgame so much as maybe we’ll have a rain delay for a couple of innings,” he said.
At the same time, Barr criticized District Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision to appoint a special master on Trump’s request to review the evidence found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida last month, as Insider’s Oma Seddiq and John Haltiwanger reported.
“It’s deeply flawed in a number of ways,” Barr said, calling Cannon’s ruling a “wrong” decision.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 6, 2022
A special master is a third party appointed by a judge to assist the court with a particular case or matter, sometimes with time-consuming tasks that judges don’t have enough bandwidth to do themselves. At other times, a special master could be someone with particular expertise who can advise the court on technical issues.
In the case of the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump, a special master was assigned by Cannon to sift through and review the records seized at Mar-a-Lago — the central focus of the probe so far.
The ruling from Cannon, a Trump appointee, will likely slow down the investigation. She had also ordered the Justice Department to temporarily cease using the seized documents for its probe, largely cutting off its means to continue working on the case.
Cannon’s decision has been panned by several high-profile legal experts, such as former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, who tweeted that it set a “problematic precedent.”
Harvard legal scholar and law professor Lawrence Tribe described the ruling as “utterly lawless” and said Cannon looked like “her mind was made up the moment Team Trump filed in her court.”
Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas professor who specializes in national security law, called the decision “preposterous” for blocking the Justice Department from using documents already in its possession.
In his TV appearance on Tuesday, Barr urged the Justice Department to appeal Cannon’s decision. While the department had previously indicated it would do so if a special master were appointed, the appeal had yet to be filed as of Tuesday evening.