The federal magistrate judge who signed the warrant authorizing the FBI raid on former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence is a former criminal defense attorney who represented a former Democratic congressman investigated by the bureau for putting his mistress on his congressional payroll.
Government records indicate that Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, one of three federal magistrates in West Palm Beach, signed the unprecedented warrant targeting Trump, who denounced the "unannounced raid" on his property as "an assault [that] could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries."
As a criminal defense attorney, Reinhart represented Democratic congressman Tim Mahoney, a Florida lawmaker who ran on a platform of "faith, family, and personal responsibility" while carrying on a series of extramarital affairs. Mahoney subsequently came under FBI investigation for hiring one of his mistresses to work in his congressional office before putting her on his campaign payroll.
Prior to becoming a judge in 2018, Reinhart spent 12 years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, the office tasked with investigating the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein for sex trafficking in 2005.
The federal case against Epstein ultimately went nowhere thanks to a controversial non-prosecution agreement Epstein's lawyers negotiated with the U.S. Attorney's office. While the terms of that deal were being finalized in late 2007, Reinhart opened a limited liability company in Florida listed at the same address used by Epstein's lead attorney, Jack Goldberger. Reinhart resigned from the U.S. Attorney's office on Jan. 1, 2008. Epstein hired him the very next day. Reinhart would go on to represent Epstein's pilot, scheduler, and alleged "sex slave," all of whom received immunity from federal prosecution.
Reinhart went on to serve 10 years in private practice, where he specialized in "white collar criminal defense and complex litigation." He was sworn in as a federal magistrate in March 2018 after being appointed by a majority vote of U.S. District Court judges in Southern Florida. Candidates for the position must be "a member of good standing of a state or territory's highest court bar" and are "vetted by a merit selection panel that consists of lawyers and non-lawyers from the community."
A Crime Victims' Rights lawsuit filed in 2011 argued that Reinhart violated Justice Department policy by switching sides and accused the attorney of exploiting his access to confidential information about the sex trafficking case to secure a job with Epstein. Reinhart denied having access to "confidential, non-public information about the Epstein matter," but the U.S. Attorney's office claimed otherwise, according to the Miami Herald.
Little is known about the FBI's raid on Trump's home. Reporting suggests the search was related to Trump's removal of classified material upon leaving the White House in 2021. "They even searched my safe!" Trump said in a statement. The Justice Department, which is investigating Trump for his efforts to remain in office following the 2020 election, has declined to comment publicly.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) denounced the federal government's actions, arguing that the Justice Department "has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization." He went on to warn Attorney General Merrick Garland that GOP lawmakers would thoroughly investigate the matter "when Republicans take back the House" in 2023.
White House aides claimed they were not informed of the FBI's intentions prior to the raid and learned about it on Twitter.