Judge who approved Trump search warrant attacked for synagogue involvement
The judge who approved the search on former President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate was attacked Tuesday for his synagogue involvement by a retired Major League Baseball player. By Wednesday, an online mob was making violent antisemitic threats against him.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, a former prosecutor who had previously been criticized for representing former employees of Jeffrey Epstein related to his sex-trafficking scandal, appears to be on the board of a South Florida synagogue. Trump loyalists eager to question the legitimacy of the FBI raid seized upon that detail.
What began with Lenny Dykstra, a retired New York Mets legend, questioning the nature of the Conservative synagogue’s Judaism, spilled over onto right-wing social media platforms and message boards, where users published the judge’s name, address and personal information. Threats have been directed at Reinhart’s children and supposed family members as well.
On Thursday, a synagogue member told the Forward that the synagogue’s beachside Shabbat service had been canceled — at the behest of the Palm Beach Gardens police — “because of the social media hate.” The synagogue’s spiritual leader planned to lead services over Zoom instead.
One user on 4chan, an online message board known for racist activity, wrote: “About that Judge that signed the search warrant…Bruce Reinhart once quit his job as a U.S. Attorney to work for Jeffrey Epstein.” Another responded writing, “That is a k***. And a pedophile … He should be tried for treason and executed.”
Reinhart was sworn in as a magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida in 2018 after a decade in private practice. He had previously been a prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Florida. A Bruce Reinhart is listed on the current board of trustees on the website of Temple Beth David, a synagogue in Palm Beach Gardens.
The synagogue did not immediately respond to inquiries on Tuesday afternoon.
Two additional warrants were assigned to Reinhart and entered into the court system on Monday, according to the Miami Herald, but remained sealed as of Tuesday afternoon.
Dykstra, a three-time Major League Baseball All-Star with the Mets and Phillies who was raised Christian, has stayed in the headlines since his retirement in 1996. The New York Post reported in 2018 — months after he was arrested on charges of threatening an Uber driver — that Dykstra was attending weekly Torah study with Rabbi Shmuel Metzger, who is affiliated with the Chabad movement. (Charges stemming from the Uber incident were dropped in 2019.)
“I hope you all weren’t expecting that the synagogue where go-ahead-and-raid-Trump Judge #BruceReinhart is on the board of trustees is one where the congregation keeps kosher, observes the sabbath, etc. You can bet they’re into “social justice” of course!” Dykstra tweeted Tuesday to his nearly 87,000 followers.
He also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but many on Twitter swiftly denounced his post.
“This is dangerous and should be reported,” one reply read.
“Wow. So you’re an antisemite. Somehow I’m not surprised,” wrote another.
Reinhart, who donated $1,000 to Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008 and $500 to Jeb Bush’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has had his own history of controversy. His representation of people connected to Epstein and the fact that he took them on the day after leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2008 raised eyebrows at the time, and again after he was sworn in as a judge four years ago.
The Miami Herald reported in November 2019 that Epstein hired Reinhart in 2008 to represent several of his former employees in cases related to Epstein’s sex-trafficking enterprise. Reinhart told the Herald these employees included Epstein’s pilots; his scheduler, Sarah Kellen; and Nadia Marcinkova, who Epstein once reportedly described as his “Yugoslavian sex slave,” all of whom were protected by an eventual non-prosecution agreement that a subsequent Department of Justice investigation determined was the result of “poor judgment” by lead prosecutor Alex Acosta.
After Reinhart was named in a 2011 lawsuit that accused him of switching sides in the middle of the Epstein case, he said in a sworn deposition that he never possessed confidential information about the case while at the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Herald reported that the office later disputed that.
Epstein was found dead in his cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges in what the New York City medical examiner deemed a suicide.
After news of the Mar-a-Lago raid broke Monday night, a popular Twitter account that describes itself as “Alt-Center” expressed shock to its approximately 250,000 followers that Reinhart had approved the search, asking: “THIS BRUCE REINHART???”
THIS BRUCE REINHART???
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) August 9, 2022
This article was updated Wednesday with additional reporting from JTA.
Correction: The article initially stated that Temple Beth David is a Reform congregation. It is Conservative.