Fact Check: Popular Left-wing Site Claims Trump Appointed Judge in Raid

Police direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago es
AP Photo/Terry Renna

CLAIM: The federal judge who authorized the raid on Mar-a-Lago was appointed by then-President Donald Trump.

VERDICT: FALSE. Magistrate judges are not appointed by the president; they are appointed by other federal judges.

On Thursday, a Facebook post by the left-wing site “The Other 98%” went viral: as of 10:00 a.m. ET, it was the “highest velocity” post in the U.S., meaning it was being shared rapidly, according to leading social media analytics company NewsWhip.

The post was an image of a tweet by left-wing activist and podcast host Andrew Wortman, who has been claiming on Twitter that U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart was appointed by Trump — a point that made the rounds after Monday’s raid.

Wortman claimed: “Do you know how f**king guilty you have to be for a federal judge that you appointed [sic] to sign off on a search warrant issued [sic] by an FBI director that you also appointed and executed by a DOJ attorney that you also appointed [sic]?”

The Other 98% (Screenshot / Facebook)

The Other 98% (Screenshot / Facebook)

There are a number of errors in that statement. The FBI does not “issue” search warrants, and nether of the U.S. attorneys for the District of Columbia or the Southern District of Florida, the only two jurisdictions related to the search, were appointed by Trump.

In addition, recent history has shown that the mere fact that a judge signs a warrant — such as the fraudulently-obtained FISA court warrants to spy on Trump aide Carter Page in 2016 and 2017 over so-called “Russia collusion” — is not proof of guilt.

(Wortman includes the fact that he supports Black Lives Matter in his Twitter profile. Black Lives Matter holds that many law enforcement actions are based on false premises and that judges, police, and prisons are motivated by prejudice instead.)

Moreover, Reinhart was not appointed by Trump: magistrate judges, who are functionaries of the federal district courts, are appointed by other federal judges. As the Department of Justice website itself explains in its “FAQ” section:

What are federal magistrate judges?

A U.S. magistrate judge is a judicial officer of the district court and is appointed by majority vote of the active district judges of the court to exercise jurisdiction over matters assigned by statute as well as those delegated by the district judges. The number of magistrate judge positions is determined by the Judicial Conference of the United States, based on recommendations of the respective district courts, the judicial councils of the circuits, and the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. A full-time magistrate judge serves a term of eight years. Duties assigned to magistrate judges by district court judges may vary considerably from court to court. [original emphasis]

Reinhart applied for the position in 2018 and was appointed — during the Trump administration, but not by Trump. (USA Today noted, in its reporting on Reinhart’s background: “Some reporters falsely claimed he was a Trump appointee.”

Facebook posts by conservative groups are routinely flagged by the social media platform for the slightest perceived inaccuracy — thanks, in part, to the fact that Facebook’s fact-checkers have a left-wing bias. But this post remains live.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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