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Who Is Bruce Reinhart, the Judge Who Approved the Mar-a-Lago Search?


Ever because the F.B.I. searched the Mar-a-Lago estate of former President Donald J. Trump for classified documents, the federal judge in Florida who signed the warrant authorizing the move, Bruce E. Reinhart, has been thrust into the highlight.

His suggestion on Thursday that he was inclined to unseal parts of the affidavit used to justify the search warrant once the federal government proposed redactions only intensified the scrutiny.

Judge Reinhart has already faced a torrent of criticism from Republicans and grow to be the topic of disinformation and online attacks, a lot of them anti-Semitic. His approval of the search warrant, right-wing critics contend, was a partisan try to harass a former president.

Outstanding Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, quickly denounced Judge Reinhart for a political donation he had made to President Barack Obama in 2008. (He has also donated to Republicans, including the previous governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, during his presidential campaign in 2015.)

But as a magistrate judge, Judge Reinhart made a call typical of his responsibilities, in response to legal experts, who say the job often supports district court judges with tasks like reviewing warrants.

He was sworn in as a magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida in 2018.

After graduating from Princeton, he received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987.

From 1988 until 1994, he worked for the Justice Department’s public integrity section inside its criminal division, in response to court documents from over a decade ago. He then joined the Treasury Department to assist draft policies for other agencies conducting criminal investigations.

He also served for 11 years as a federal prosecutor within the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of Florida.

His time there coincided with the investigation of Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier who was accused of luring teenage girls to his Palm Beach mansion and sexually abusing them. Mr. Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges and avoid a lengthy prison sentence in a plea agreement the Justice Department later acknowledged showed “poor judgment.” Mr. Reinhart has denied participating within the investigation. Shortly after leaving the Justice Department in late 2008, he went into private practice, where he represented a few of Mr. Epstein’s employees who had been accused of facilitating sex trafficking.

One among those clients was Sarah Kellen, who was accused of helping procure young girls for Mr. Epstein.

In court filings, lawyers for Mr. Epstein’s victims accused Mr. Reinhart of violating Florida bar rules. His involvement “gave the looks” of currying favor with Mr. Epstein while working on the Justice Department to be able to reap rewards with lucrative employment, a criticism said.

Paul G. Cassell, a lawyer representing the victims who lodged a criticism about Judge Reinhart’s involvement, declined to comment. Judge Reinhart didn’t reply to a request for comment.

In court filings, Mr. Reinhart denied that he had done anything improper, stating in a sworn affidavit that he had not participated in his office’s investigation of Mr. Epstein and had no special knowledge that may aid his defense of Ms. Kellen. The false accusations, he said, disparaged his character.

But Judge Reinhart’s critics immediately seized on his connection to Mr. Epstein, quickly inspiring disinformation about it.

Last week, in a segment on Fox News, a bunch showed a manipulated photo that appeared to indicate Judge Reinhart seated on a plane with Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s companion who had been convicted last yr of aiding Mr. Epstein in sexually abusing minors.

(In 2019, Mr. Epstein was again charged in Latest York, but was found dead of apparent suicide in his cell.)

The host, Brian Kilmeade, said on Twitter a day later that the image “wasn’t real” and that the network was “showing a meme in jest.”

But all of the scrutiny of Judge Reinhart has also prompted the local authorities to step up security. His synagogue canceled a Friday night Shabbat service last week in response to multiple antisemitic threats, and the police in his neighborhood said officers had intensified patrols near his house.

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