Bruce Reinhart is the Florida judge who signed off on the controversial raid of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private residence.
According to Politico, Trump lawyer Christina Bobb revealed that Reinhart, a magistrate judge, was the official who signed off on the warrant. She also told the news site that agents “removed about a dozen boxes of materials from the property.”
Republicans and Trump have condemned the raid. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is requesting that the search warrant be unsealed.
The judge has some points of controversy in his background, having represented employees of disgraced pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Both he and his wife have worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in the past. In 2017, he wrote a Facebook post critical of Trump, and he had donated to the campaigns of Barack Obama and Jeb Bush.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Reinhart Is a New Jersey-Raised, Princeton-Educated Magistrate Judge Who Is a Former Federal Prosecutor
According to Ballotpedia, Reinhart “is a magistrate judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He was appointed to the court on March 19, 2018, and his current term will expire on March 18, 2026.”
He is a graduate of Princeton University. He received a law degree from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1987, according to Ballotpedia, which said he was an attorney in private practice before becoming a judge.
A press release issued by the U.S. District Court in Florida when Reinhart was appointed to be a magistrate judge gives a lengthy professional biography for him.
It says he was appointed to the position by the court’s “district judges.”
“Mr. Reinhart earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1984 and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1987, where he was a member of Law Review and served as Associate Editor and Special Project Editor,” it reads.
“Mr. Reinhart originally hails from Somerville, New Jersey. From 2008 until the present, Mr. Reinhart has been a trial lawyer in private practice both with his own law firm, Bruce E. Reinhart, P.A., and with McDonald Hopkins LLC, in West Palm Beach, Florida.”
The bio continues:
His practice predominantly involved criminal defense in federal and state court, including white collar criminal defense work, representing subjects of Government investigations, and civil/complex litigation. In addition to his private practice, Mr. Reinhart previously served on the Court’s CJA Panel representing indigent criminal defendants, served as an Ethics Commissioner on the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, and provided pro bono representation through the Clemency Project 2014, which was a program jointly established by numerous bar associations to assist federal prisoners with clemency applications.
From 1996 to 2008, Mr. Reinhart served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, ultimately reaching the position of Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney. In addition to supervision duties, he managed a docket that covered the full spectrum of federal crimes, including narcotics, violent crimes, public corruption, financial frauds, child pornography and immigration.
Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, from 1994-1996, Mr. Reinhart served as Senior Policy Advisor, Acting Director of the Office of Policy Development and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C. While there, he primarily focused on analyzing law enforcement policy proposals and was primarily responsible for drafting the Treasury Department’s law enforcement strategic plan.
Mr. Reinhart also worked as a trial attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. from 1988-1994. While at the Department of Justice, he conducted all aspects of public integrity investigations and prosecutions nationwide. Mr. Reinhart’s career at the Department of Justice commenced with his acceptance into the Attorney General’s prestigious Honor Program, which admitted only six of 2500 applicants. Mr. Reinhart’s legal career began in 1987-1988 as a law clerk to the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania…
The announcement of Mr. Reinhart’s selection culminates a broad search process that began in August of 2017. The Court 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. 64 well-qualified individuals applied. The selection panel reviewed all 64 submissions and elected to interview 15 candidates in person. Following these interviews, the selection panel recommended five finalists to the Court. The district judges interviewed the five finalists in November of last year. The Court selected Mr. Reinhart to fill the vacant magistrate judgeship. Mr. Reinhart’s selection was not previously announced pending completion of an FBI and IRS background investigation report, as is standard to the appointment process.
2. Reinhart Is Married to a Judge, Carolyn Bell, Who Used to Work for the U.S. Department of Justice
On his Facebook page, Reinhart shared a 2018 press release announcing that his wife had been appointed to a judicial position. She was appointed to the bench by then-Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican.
That press release describes Reinhart’s wife, Carolyn Bell, as a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida who previously served as a senior trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. She received bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.
“So proud of my wife!” the post reads. “A dedicated public servant for almost 3 decades. She will be a phenomenal judge. The citizens of Palm Beach County and the State of Florida are blessed and lucky to have her. Thanks to everyone who supported her candidacy, and a special thanks to Governor Rick Scott and his team for placing their confidence in her.”
His wife has only one tribute post visible on her Facebook page.
3. Reinhart Once Worked as a Defense Attorney for People Connected to Jeffrey Epstein
According to Politico, Reinhart once switched “from his job as a federal prosecutor to working as a defense attorney on behalf of individuals connected to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.”
The Miami Herald, in an investigation on Epstein, reported that a day after Reinhart resigned as a federal prosecutor, he began working as a defense attorney for employees of Epstein, including pilots and a scheduler. He was later accused in a lawsuit of violating Justice Department policies as a result, but Reinhart said he did nothing wrong because he had obtained no secret information on the Epstein case when he worked for the Justice Department.
Court records in a lawsuit by victims connected to the Epstein case contain this passage,
Bruce E. Reinhart seeks leave to intervene as a party-in-interest under Rule 24(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Reinhart seeks to intervene to file a motion for sanctions based on allegedly ‘unfounded factual and legal accusations made about Movant in Plaintiffs’ Motion for Finding of Violations of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.’ (DE 79 at 1). In that motion, Plaintiffs alleged that Reinhart, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, ‘joined Epstein’s payroll shortly after important decisions were made limiting Epstein’s criminal liability’ and improperly represented Epstein victims in follow-on civil suits. (DE 48 at 22). Plaintiffs contend that such conduct ‘give[s], at least, the improper appearance that Reinhart may have attempted to curry [favor] with Epstein and then reap his reward through favorable employment.’ (DE 48 at 23). Reinhart takes great offense to these accusation—which he contends are false, irrelevant to the CVRA claims, and gratuitous—and seeks intervention to rebut these allegations and move for sanctions.
The Law360 blog reported that, in July 2022, Reinhart ruled that Google should get attorney fees after winning a lawsuit over an “allegedly blacklisted website owned by conservative individuals.” But he recommended “slashing Google’s fee request because the case was resolved quickly and was uncomplicated.”
Politico reported that Reinhart is known for his “meticulous” nature and is “well-respected within the Palm Beach legal community,” having “once worked in the Justice Department’s public integrity section.”
A photo circulating online purports to show Reinhart with convicted socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who was Jeffrey Epstein’s accomplice.
However, it’s fake, according to Snopes. The false photo shows “Ghislaine Maxwell massaging the foot of Florida Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart,” Snopes reported.
According to Snopes, the photo originally showed Epstein getting the foot massage but was altered in Photoshop to falsely place Reinhart in the picture.
4. Reinhart Criticized President Donald Trump in a Facebook Post That Quotes Joe McCarthy
In 2017, Reinhart shared a post by former anchorman Dan Rather that was critical of Trump. He added his own commentary critical to the president. The Facebook post written by Reinhart reads:
I generally ignore the President-elect’s tweets, but not this one. 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?’
After Lewis, a civil rights icon, died, Trump had declined to praise him, saying, according to NPR, “I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. … I never met John Lewis actually, I don’t believe.”
Other posts are not political.
He wrote a tribute to a judge named Norma Shapiro on Facebook:
Today would have been the 89th birthday of this remarkable woman. History will remember her as a legal trailblazer, but she was so much more. I had the honor to serve as her law clerk at the beginning of my legal career. With each year that passes, I realize how much she taught me, and what a unique opportunity it was to be mentored by her. She once told me that she became a lawyer ‘because lawyers are supposed to help people.’ Every day, in ways big and small, she tried to help people. I try to honor her by doing the same.
Reinhart previously recused himself from Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other Democrats relating to the Russian investigation because he did not believe he could be impartial, according to The Tennessee Star.
5. Reinhart Donated Money to Barack Obama & Jeb Bush
Reinhart has donated money both to former President Obama, a Democrat, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a Republican, according to federal campaign finance records.
Trump defeated Bush in the 2016 primary.
In 2017, the judge wrote on Facebook, “It’s embarrassing to live in a state that is less enlightened on criminal justice than Louisiana and Mississippi.”
The judge is a football fan who has written posts about hurricanes.
“We interrupt this hurricane for the beginning of football season. Sitting on my back patio, protected by Kevlar screens that are bolted down. Hoping electricity stays on for the Giants-Dallas game tonight,” he wrote on one Facebook photo.
He shared a video about explaining privilege.
Other posts gave shout-outs to Florida sunsets.