What to Know in Washington: Mar-a-Lago Special Master Irks Trump

Donald Trump got the court-ordered review he wanted of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago home as well as his preferred pick for a so-called special master to carry it out. But less than a month in, the former president has complaints about how that review is taking shape.

Trump’s attorneys lodged objections this week to US District Senior Judge Raymond Dearie’s proposal for how his work as special master will proceed over the next few months, according to a letter they sent the judge. Trump objected to Dearie’s request that his legal team verify the government’s inventory of what exactly agents seized during the August search, how Dearie categorized the privilege issues he’d be looking for, and the judge’s request for briefing on certain questions of law.

Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images
Trump at a “Save America Rally” in Wilmington, N.C., on Sept. 23.

His legal team also shared new details about the volume of materials seized by FBI agents from Trump’s post-presidency home in Florida, writing in a separate letter to Dearie that they recently learned from the Justice Department attorneys that the roughly 11,000 documents actually tallies about 200,000 pages. The seized materials include government records, press clippings, books, and other documents, according to the government’s public inventory logs.

In dueling letters to Dearie on Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department took verbal swipes at each other and assigned blame for a delay in finding a vendor to perform the critical task of turning the hard copy documents into shareable electronic versions. The exchange marked a tense beginning to a review process expected to last at least another two months.

The government pushed back at Trump’s objections to Dearie’s plan for managing the document review, suggesting Trump was unwilling to fully engage with the special master process that he had demanded.

Trump “bears the burden of proof,” government attorneys wrote. “If he wants the special master to make recommendations as to whether he is entitled to the relief he seeks, plaintiff will need to participate in the process” as outlined by the court. But Trump’s lawyers accused DOJ lawyers of using “conclusory and antagonistic comments” to address their objections. Read more.

Happening on the Hill


  • The House meets at 10 a.m. and will take up bills including a package of antitrust measures.
  • Senators gather at 10 a.m. to debate the stopgap deal and vote on a judicial nominee.

School Shootings’ Rise Fuels Secret Service Training Requests

After an unprecedented surge in shootings at US schools, the Secret Service says its National Threat Assessment Center fielded more training requests this fiscal year than at any time in its history. Supporters across Congress are now pushing for dedicated funding that would explicitly fund the center, expand staff and broaden its reach.

More Russia Sanctions Are Coming, Biden Officials Tell Senators

The US and its allies are planning more sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, a senior Biden administration official told senators Wednesday, as lawmakers lamented that punishments so far haven’t deterred President Vladimir Putin.

  • Meanwhile, an upcoming vote for leadership of a little-known United Nations agency that develops global standards for mobile phones, internet connectivity and satellite technology could impact the future of the internet. Read more.
  • The highly-prized HIMARS artillery system in the US’s latest $1.1 billion security assistance package for Ukraine will take a few years to be built, a Pentagon official said Wednesday. Read more.
  • Russia vowed to go ahead with the annexation of the parts of Ukraine that its troops currently control after UN-condemned votes, putting the Kremlin on a fresh collision course with the US and its allies. Read more.

Democrats Ask Yellen to Reject Lobbying on Minimum Corporate Tax

Congressional Democrats are urging the Treasury Department to ignore appeals by lobbyists to weaken the 15% minimum levy on domestic corporations.

Ginni Thomas Is to Be Interviewed This Week by Jan. 6 Committee

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a conservative activist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is set to be interviewed this week by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, according to the panel’s chairman.

New Bill Would Revamp Consumer Bankruptcies, Add New Chapter

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) reintroduced a bill that would radically rework the US Bankruptcy Code for individual debtors.

Elections, Politics & Probes

Trump Deposition in Fraud Lawsuit Delayed by Hurricane Ian

Trump’s deposition in an investors’ class-action fraud lawsuit over his promotion of a failed desktop video phone was delayed by Hurricane Ian that’s ravaging large parts of Florida.

Yellen Tells White House She’ll Stay Past November Midterms

Janet Yellen, eager to see through crucial projects, has told White House officials she’s prepared to remain Treasury secretary well after the midterm elections, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Youngkin Says GOP Win Will Prevent Economic ‘Hard Landing’

If Republicans win control of both the US House and Senate in November, the sweep would produce a “calming influence” and soften an economic downturn, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin said during CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference on Wednesday.

Around the Administration


  • At noon, Biden receives a briefing on the response to Hurricane Ian.
  • Biden hosts a summit of leaders from Pacific island nations at 3 p.m.

Drug Price Law to Spur Creative Claims as Industry Readies Fight

Medicare’s drug price negotiations are poised to turn into a legal battle as the government works out rules to implement them and critics eye ways to skirt limits on lawsuits.

Biden Turns to Companies on Hunger to Bypass Impasse in Congress

Promises from food companies and nonprofits were front and center at the White House’s first summit on hunger in over 50 years. The commitments underscore the Biden administration’s reliance on the private sector to meet its goals of ending hunger by 2030 and prompting healthier eating habits.

US Commerce Secretary Suggests UK Economic Policies Misguided

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo suggested on Wednesday that the policies being pursued by the new UK government were misguided.

Biden’s $15 Contractor Minimum Wage Weighed as ‘Major Question’

A federal appeals court in Denver wrestled with the scope of President Joe Biden’s move to boost the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 per hour, a potential determining factor in whether the pay hike survives judicial review.

EPA National Office Means `No Excuses’ on Equity, Official Says

The EPA’s launch of a new national environmental justice office will mean adding roughly a dozen staffers, with possibly more in the years ahead, to each of its 10 regional offices to help disadvantaged communities that have long borne the brunt of pollution, a top agency official said Wednesday.

Polluted Communities Need Bigger Role in Settlements, EPA Says

The EPA is encouraging companies and other defendants accused of air and water pollution, as well as other environmental crimes, to gather input from affected communities about what beneficial projects residents might want as part of a legal deal.

US’s Harris Goes to DMZ Hours After North Korea Missile Launch

Vice President Kamala Harris went to the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas, in a high-stakes visit for Washington that came just hours after Kim Jong Un’s regime fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea.


  • Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm as it continued to move northeastward across central Florida, with a massive and deadly surge of water and catastrophic winds that are poised to make it one of the costliest storms in US history. Read more.
  • The US approved BP’s request for a Jones Act waiver of American shipping requirements to allow a foreign-flagged delivery of diesel to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico. Read more.
  • The SEC is willing to revise its plan to require corporate reporting on greenhouse gas emissions and other climate matters to address any valid concerns about compliance costs, Chair Gary Gensler said. Read more.
  • The Supreme Court will continue its pandemic-era practice of livestreaming audio for oral arguments for the new term starting Oct. 3. Read more.
  • The US’s top envoy to China called on the nation to reopen dialogues it halted after Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan almost two months ago, as Washington tries to get ties back on track. Read more.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com