The federal magistrate judge who authorized this week’s FBI raid on Donald Trump’s home and office in Florida six weeks earlier recused himself from the former president’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other Democrats in the Russia collusion scandal, citing concerns he couldn’t be impartial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce W. Reinhart in West Palm Beach, Fla., who was appointed in 2018, filed the recusal document on June 22, a few weeks after presiding over the start of the civil litigation. Reinhart signed the search warrant authorizing the Mar-a-Lago search on Aug. 5, court records show.
“The undersigned Magistrate Judge, to whom the above-styled cause has been assigned, hereby recuses himself and refers the case to the Clerk of Court for reassignment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455,” Reinhart wrote in his order of recusal in the Trump v. Clinton case.
The statute that the magistrate cited for his recusal states in part that a judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned” and then describes the various circumstances that could trigger such concerns.
They include “a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts” or prior work as a lawyer for a party involved in the case.
Reinhart’s order did not specify the conflict or source of his concern for recusal.
Trump’s lawsuit accuses Clinton, Democrat allies and current and former government officials of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy to falsely portray Trump as colluding with Russia during the 2016 election. The sweeping nature of the suit involves numerous parties and public figures.
The recusal filing emerges as numerous media reports have surfaced about the magistrate’s prior work, including donations before he was judge to President Barack Obama and Jeb Bush and work for figures associated with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Daily Wire also raised questions about Reinhart’s impartiality toward Trump, reporting that in a 2017 Facebook social post — a year before he was named a magistrate — he challenged the 45th president’s moral character after Trump attacked the late Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon.
“I generally ignore the President-elect’s tweets, but not this one,” Reinhart posted, according to the Daily Wire. “John Lewis arguably has done more to ‘make America great’ than any living citizen. Last August, I took my son to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma so he could understand the kind of courage and sacrifice required to live in a democratic society. John Lewis embodies that spirit. Although I’ve never met him, he is one of my heroes.
“Thank you, Robert Reich, for saying what many of us feel, ‘John Lewis is the conscience of America. Donald Trump doesn’t have the moral stature to kiss John Lewis’s feet.’
“Or, as Joseph Welch said to Joseph McCarthy, ‘At long last, have you left no sense of decency?'”