Bruce E. Reinhart, the federal judge in Florida who signed the warrant authorising the F.B.I. to search the Mar-a-Lago estate of former President Donald J. Trump for classified documents, has been thrust into the public eye ever since the F.B.I. searched the property for documents of a sensitive nature.
The fact that he indicated on Thursday that he could be willing to unseal portions of the affidavit that was used to obtain the search warrant after the government recommended redactions only served to intensify the scrutiny that was being applied.
Already, Judge Reinhart has been subjected to a barrage of criticism from Republican lawmakers and has been made the target of misinformation and assaults online, many of which are anti-Semitic in nature. Right-wing opponents believe that his acceptance of the search warrant was an effort to harass a former president in the sake of partisanship.
Judge Reinhart was swiftly criticised by prominent Republicans, notably Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, for a political gift that he had given to President Barack Obama in 2008. (He has also given to Republicans, such as Jeb Bush, who was the former governor of Florida and ran for president in 2015, during the course of his campaign.)
However, in his capacity as a magistrate judge, Judge Reinhart made a judgement that was typical of the obligations he was expected to carry out, according to professionals in the field of law who claim that the role often assists district court judges with chores such as evaluating warrants.
In 2018, he was given his judicial commission for the Southern District of Florida and was sworn in as a magistrate judge.
In 1987, he went on to get a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania after completing his undergraduate studies at Princeton.
According to court filings from more than a decade ago, he worked for the Justice Department’s public integrity unit inside its criminal division from 1988 to 1994. His employment there was documented in the criminal division. After that, he started working for the Treasury Department, where he contributed to the formulation of regulations for other agencies that undertake criminal investigations.
In addition to that, he spent 11 years working as a federal prosecutor in the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
While he was there, an investigation was being conducted into Jeffrey Epstein, a prominent businessman who was suspected of enticing adolescent girls to his estate in Palm Beach and then sexually assaulting them there. His stay there coincided with the inquiry. Through a plea deal that the Justice Department subsequently recognised showed “bad judgement,” Mr. Epstein was given the opportunity to escape a significant prison term by pleading guilty to lesser counts, and he was able to do so. Mr. Reinhart has said that he was not involved in the probe in any way. Soon after he left the Justice Department in late 2008, he moved into private practise, where he defended several of Mr. Epstein’s workers who had been accused of assisting sex trafficking. He also went on to become an attorney.
One of these customers was a woman named Sarah Kellen, and she was suspected of assisting Mr. Epstein in the recruitment of young women.
In documents filed with the court, attorneys for Mr. Epstein’s victims accused Mr. Reinhart of breaking the rules of the Florida bar. According to the lawsuit, his participation “had the impression” of an attempt to curry favour with Mr. Epstein while he was employed at the Justice Department in order to reap the advantages of lucrative job opportunities.
Paul G. Cassell, the attorney who represents the victims and who filed a complaint alleging Judge Reinhart’s participation, refused to comment on the matter. A request for response was made to Judge Reinhart, but he did not reply to the inquiry.
In documents filed with the court, Mr. Reinhart denied that he had engaged in any improper conduct. He stated in a sworn affidavit that he had not participated in his office’s investigation of Mr. Epstein and had no special knowledge that would aid in his defence of Ms. Kellen. Mr. Reinhart also claimed that he did not have any information that would help him defend Ms. Kellen. According to him, the unfounded allegations brought his reputation into disrepute.
However, Judge Reinhart’s detractors jumped on the fact that he was associated with Mr. Epstein very away, and they swiftly spread misinformation about it.
In a segment that aired last week on Fox News, a host displayed a photo that had been digitally altered to make it appear as though Judge Reinhart was sitting on a plane with Mr. Epstein’s companion Ghislaine Maxwell. Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of assisting Mr. Epstein in the sexual abuse of minors in the previous year.
The broadcaster, Brian Kilmeade, explained a day later on Twitter that the picture “wasn’t genuine” and that the network was “presenting a meme in jest.” He also explained that the image was a joke.
However, all of the attention that has been focused on Judge Reinhart has also forced the local authorities to increase their level of protection. Last week, in reaction to repeated antisemitic threats, his synagogue cancelled a Friday night Shabbat service, and the police in his area indicated that officers had increased patrols near his residence. Both of these actions were taken to ensure the safety of the Jewish community.