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1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was raided by the FBI on Aug. 8.

Credit: Chase Sutton

The judge who reportedly greenlit Monday’s unprecedented FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida is a graduate of Penn Law School.

Bruce Reinhart, who earned his JD cum laude from Penn Law School in 1987, serves as a federal magistrate judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Reinhart is reported to have signed off on the search warrant that FBI agents then executed to descend on the Mar-a-Lago estate where Trump — a 1968 Wharton graduate — calls home. 

“I can’t comment on anything that’s being reported,” Reinhart wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

The search of Trump’s home in Palm Beach, Fla., marked the first time in U.S. history that the FBI searched the personal residence of a former president. It was tied to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of Trump’s possession of material, some of which is allegedly classified, that he brought to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House.

The FBI agents seized 12 boxes of material from Mar-a-Lago and opened a safe belonging to Trump. If he were to be charged and convicted under Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code for concealing official government material, he would be fined or jailed and "disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

Reinhart wrote for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review while at Penn and has been a magistrate judge since 2018. The duties of a magistrate judge vary from district to district but generally include signing off on whether to issue a warrant, conducting preliminary trial proceedings, and handling hearings in civil and criminal cases. 

1987 Penn Law graduate Osvaldo Torres, who was friends with Reinhart during their time in law school and last spoke with him at the Class of 1987’s 35th reunion in May, said his character is “not something I would ever question.”

“Bruce is a very disciplined, intellectual, serious person. I don't think he would have been invited to be on the bench otherwise,” Torres said, adding that Reinhart was also a good student. 

After graduating from Penn Law, Reinhart clerked for 1951 Penn Law graduate and Judge Norma Levy Shapiro of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which includes Philadelphia. Reinhart then spent time working in the U.S. Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, and as a federal prosecutor until 2008.

In 2011, Reinhart denied allegations that he violated Justice Department policies by representing employees of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the Miami Herald. He has donated to both Democratic and Republican candidates for state and federal office.

Since he was reported to have signed the warrant, Reinhart has been the subject of online criticism from far-right supporters of Trump who were outraged by the FBI search. Some users have posted violent threats and used antisemitic slurs against the judge on message boards, VICE reported. 

“I don't think any of that would go to his judgment,” Torres said of allegations associating Reinhart with Epstein and certain political beliefs. “I highly doubt that he would do anything other than a strictly disciplined, judicial approach.”