One of the advantages of a weekly column as opposed to a daily column is that you only have to write once a week. The downside is, by the time the column is published, the situation being addressed can change. When I wrote about COVID two columns ago, I thought that I would have COVID for a few days and then be done with it. It had been almost two weeks and I was still testing positive. Finally, after fourteen days I tested negative. After ten days I was able to go to shul with a mask. However, I needed to continue to isolate for activities that I cannot do with a mask, such as eating and sleeping. The weather has been very comfortable, so I was able to eat outside. I had been sleeping in a small room with a small bed. When I was younger, I could sleep on anything. Age has a funny way of changing people. It is a great feeling knowing that my incarceration is over. I just hope and pray that I do not suffer any lingering effects from COVID. Unfortunately, I know people who still suffer more than a year later.
I am writing in the mindset of Aseret Yemai Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Repentance, the period from Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur. This column is coming out after Yom Kippur. We ask for many things. Some of our requests are granted and others are denied. There is a tendency to sometimes be disappointed when our requests are not granted. For example, we may have wanted a particular job, or a single person wanted a relationship to work out. Years later, we may view things differently and say, “thank G-d I didn’t end up with that job or that person. It would have been a nightmare. Or it may not have been a nightmare, but I ended up in a career and with a spouse more suited for me.”
One person who right now is not happy that his wish was granted is Donald Trump. After the search by the FBI per search warrant at Mar-a-Logo, Trump made what looked like a brilliant strategic maneuver to outflank the magistrate. He brought a new action before a District Court Judge requesting among other things that a special master be appointed to review the documents taken by the FBI. The Department of Justice opposed the request, since they were reviewing the documents and could conclude which documents were personal and could be returned. To the surprise of many legal scholars, District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who has been a District Court Judge for two years, granted Trump’s request for the appointment of a special master. Then the Judge asked for both sides to recommend two individuals to be appointed as special master. You would expect that each side would propose individuals who they think would be more inclined to be favorable to their position. Trump recommended Raymond Dearie, a Senior District Court Judge from the United States District Court Eastern District of New York. He has been a Judge for 37 years since having been recommended for appointment by President Reagan. The DOJ made two recommendations for a special master but ended up agreeing to Trump’s suggestion of Judge Dearie.
Since Judge Dearie has taken over, it has been one problem after another for the Trump team. They wanted to delay the case and the Judge set a quick timetable to go through the documents. Trump kept on claiming that the documents were declassified. Judge Dearie asked Trump to submit to the Court which documents he claims were declassified and how were they were declassified. If no submission is made, then the Court will follow the representations of the government as to which documents were classified. The issue of the special master’s considering what was classified was taken away by the Court of Appeals 11th Circuit, which said that the Florida District Court should never have never put the issue as to what was classified before the special master instead of relying upon the government’s representation. This was not a win for Trump.
Another argument that Trump has repeatedly made is that the FBI somehow planted documents. Judge Dearie requested that Trump specify the particular documents that he claims were planted. Although Justice Cannon then ruled against the special master for having these requirements at this time, it may only be a short reprieve for Trump.
Trump is now on the defensive and cannot claim that he was not given a fair shake, since this is the guy he wanted. Also, if a special master had not been appointed, Trump would have been able to rail against the system. Trump’s request was granted, and he must live with it.
It is just another cautionary tale that we don’t always know what is best for us. That is why it is important to remember when something on the surface appears to be contrary to our wishes, we should trust Hashem and say gam zu l’tovah. This too is for the best.