In the Southern District of Florida, where the Justice Department is currently investigating classified records at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, President Joe Biden nominated a Miami litigator and experienced government lawyer to serve as United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida. The appointment of Markenzy Lapointe replaces Juan Antonio “Tony” Gonzalez, a former Southern Florida prosecutor involved with the investigation of classified records and the debate as to whether a judge should appoint a special master to inspect the seized classified documents as part of the search for classified information.
Biden has nominated an experienced Miami litigator and a longtime government lawyer as US attorney for the district of Florida. This office is investigating classified records kept at former Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, which is under investigation by the Justice Department.#Joe pic.twitter.com/CNTGvZ3tVI
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) September 16, 2022
It was not clear why the Biden administration chose to announce the nomination at this time since the government’s case is currently proceeding through the legal system. Gonzalez was appointed to the position by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who had previously served as a senior prosecutor in the office. Before this, his nomination for the position was not formally submitted.
Since 1998, Gonzalez has served as a federal prosecutor in southern Florida, holding positions as acting U.S. attorney and first assistant attorney. Assuming the role following the nomination of Ariana Fajardo Orshan, he succeeded Trump. Due to the ongoing investigation, Lapointe will likely remain in the spotlight for many months. In his current position, he is associated with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; before that, he served with Boies Schiller & Flexner. During 2002 and 2006, he served as an assistant United States attorney in Florida’s Southern District.
Senate Must Confirm the U.S. Attorney Picks
A federal investigation into Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz is being handled by U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg, whom Biden formally nominated. Garland appointed Handberg to the role in 2021, and he has served in the role since then. Senate confirmation is required for U.S. attorney nominees, so home-state senators usually have a significant influence. Republican Senator Marco Rubio praised Biden’s picks and led a bipartisan commission recommending both Florida candidates.
“They have distinguished themselves in their communities and nation, and I am confident that both will uphold the Constitution and respect the rule of law without fear or favor,” he noted. In addition, President Biden nominated McLain Schneider to the District of North Dakota. Between 2008 and 2016, he was a North Dakota State Senate member and a private practice attorney. The White House stated that these lawyers were chosen based on their commitment to the law’s implementation, experience, professionalism, credentials, and commitment to pursuing equal justice for all.
A Judge grants Trump’s Special Master Bid
On Monday, a federal judge granted former President Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review FBI-seized documents from his Florida home. In addition, he temporarily halted the DOJ’s use of classified records to conduct investigations. As a result of the decision of United States District Judge Aileen Cannon, the documents seized during the search on August 8 will be reviewed by an outside legal expert. This expert will determine whether there are items that might be protected by the attorney-client privilege or executive privilege and remove them from the investigation. Ultimately, some of those records may be returned to Trump, but the judge has not decided on that issue.
It came despite the strongly expressed objections of the Justice Department, which argued that a special master was not necessary as officials had already reviewed potentially privileged documents. In a statement on Monday, the department indicated that it was reviewing the decision, but it would not disclose if or when it might appeal it. Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the Justice Department, stated on Monday that the United States would evaluate the opinion and take appropriate next steps in the ongoing litigation. Trump’s lawyer did not respond to a message seeking comment.
During an investigation into the retention of national defense information at Mar-a-Lago and attempts to obstruct the investigation, FBI agents seized approximately 11,000 documents and 1,800 other items in August. The classification markings were found on about 100 of the documents. During the investigation, Trump’s team argued that the appointment of a special master, usually an outside lawyer or former judge, was necessary to ensure that any information or documents personal to Trump were filtered out before being returned to him.