The claim: Jeffrey Epstein’s former lawyer was the judge who signed off on the Mar-a-Lago search warrant
As part of a federal investigation into whether former President Donald Trump illegally removed classified documents from the White House, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart signed a warrant in early August allowing FBI agents to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.
In the days and weeks after the search, many people used social media platforms to share information – and misinformation – about the individuals involved.
"If you think it's a coincidence that Jeffrey Epstein's lawyer became a federal judge and that very same judge, of thousands of judges, was the person to sign off on the Mar-a-Lago search warrant you haven't been paying attention," the post reads.
While Reinhart was the judge who signed off on the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, he was not a former Epstein lawyer. He did, however, represent some Epstein associates, according to the Miami Herald.
Follow us on Facebook! Like our page to get updates throughout the day on our latest debunks
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.
Reinhart did not represent Epstein
In 2019, Reinhart told the Miami Herald he represented some employees of Epstein, during his tenure as a defense attorney, but never Epstein himself.
In early 2008, Reinhart left his position as a federal prosecutor and began working in the private sector specializing in white-collar criminal defense. It was at that time that he represented some Epstein employees, including pilots for Epstein, his scheduler and a woman described as Epstein's sex slave by some victims, Politico reported.
Reinhart left private practice in 2018. Epstein died by suicide in 2019 while he was awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
Case assigned randomly to Reinhart
Reinhart was sworn in as a federal magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida in 2018.
He was appointed to the court by judges on the federal district court, after a selection panel of lawyers and community members narrowed the field to five finalists, according to a press release from the district court.
Magistrate judges handle an array of judicial tasks, including issuing warrants, conducting preliminary proceedings and hearing some low-level cases, according to the United States Courts website.
The judges are assigned those cases at random; any one of the district's three magistrate judges could have approved and signed the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, CBS News reported.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Epstein’s former lawyer was the judge who signed off on the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. Reinhart told the Miami Herald he represented Epstein employees, not Epstein.
Our fact-check sources:
Palm Beach Post, Aug. 9, Donald Trump knows what FBI agents took from Mar-a-Lago and why they took it, experts say
Miami Herald, July 13, 2019, Deflecting blame, Acosta pointed finger at others. Why they may have some explaining to do
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, accessed Sept. 26, Judge Bruce E. Reinhart
USA TODAY, Aug. 10, 2019, Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, awaiting sex trafficking charges, dead of apparent suicide
U.S. Courts, accessed Sept. 27, About Federal Judges
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, March 14, 2018, Press release
Contributing: Sudiksha Kochi
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: No, Bruce Reinhart was not Jeffrey Epstein's lawyer