Fact check: Bruce Reinhart, who approved FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, was not appointed by Trump

·4 min read

The claim: Donald Trump appointed Bruce Reinhart as a magistrate judge in 2018

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart signed off on a search warrant allowing FBI agents to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on Aug. 8 as part of a federal investigation examining whether Trump illegally removed classified documents from the White House upon leaving office.

Reinhart quickly faced criticism from Trump supporters for the role he played in the FBI search. Amid the backlash, some social media users also spread claims that Trump appointed Reinhart to his current position in 2018.

"BREAKING REPORT: Florida Federal Magistrate Bruce Reinhart who approved FBI RAID at Trump's home and represented several Epstein Associates after leaving US attorney's office in 2008 was appointed by DONALD TRUMP in 2018," reads a screenshot of a tweet shared to Facebook on Aug. 9.

The post, along with several in the same vein, garnered a few dozen shares, but the original tweet amassed over 24,000 likes since it was published Aug. 9.

But Trump had nothing to do with Reinhart's appointment in 2018.

Follow us on Facebook! Like our page to get updates throughout the day on our latest debunks

Legal experts told USA TODAY judges on the federal district court select magistrate judges. That's how Reinhart was appointed, according to a press release from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The president does not play a role in this process.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

District court judges appointed Reinhart

Magistrate judges are typically appointed "by majority vote of the U.S. district judges" of a court, according to the United States Courts website. They are not appointed by the president, Stephen Saltzburg, professor of law at George Washington University, told USA TODAY in an email.

Reinhart's selection as a magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida ended "a broad search process" that began in 2017, according to a March 2018 press release from the district court. The court had "appointed a selection panel, comprised of leaders in the legal community as well as non-lawyers in the community, to assist with the selection process."

The selection panel selected 15 candidates to interview in person out of the 64 candidates who applied and recommended five finalists to the court, the press release says. The district judges interviewed those finalists and then selected Reinhart.

Fact check: Video shows a pro-Trump mob with floor plans inside Capitol building on Jan. 6

Magistrate judges are selected for "a renewable term of eight years," and their responsibilities include issuing warrants, conducting preliminary proceedings in criminal cases and hearing cases "involving petty offenses committed on federal lands," according to the US Courts website.

When contacted for comment, Liz Harrington, Trump's spokesperson, referred USA TODAY to the court's press release. There is no evidence Trump played a role in Reinhart's appointment.

The post's claim about Reinhart's ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's associates is accurate. Reinhart represented several of Epstein's employees, including Epstein's pilots and his scheduler, in 2008 as a defense attorney prior to becoming a magistrate judge, according to Politico.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Trump appointed Reinhart as a magistrate judge in 2018. Federal district judges in Florida's Southern District appointed Reinhart. Trump had no involvement.

Our fact-check sources:

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim about magistrate who approved Trump warrant