“Be careful what you wish for” (anonymous)
Judge Aileen “Loose” Cannon is surely Trump’s favorite judge. He nominated her in the closing months of his administration and McConnell dutifully pushed her confirmation through. Being unqualified for the position of federal District Court Judge her Chief Judge down in FL assigned her to a literal one-judge/courtroom spot in a relative out of the way place where she couldn’t do much damage. Even hearing fairly simple cases she still screwed up some. Cannon was way the hell out of her depth so owing her lifetime appointment and fat salary to Trump when he went shopping for a friendly judge while being investigated for the classified documents found in that August 2022 search of Mar A Lago she was happy, if not thrilled to step outside of her lane and do him a solid.
As you know she quickly got slapped down (and hard) not once but TWICE by the court of appeals. One of the most conservative in the country and some of the judges were Trump appointees themselves! You’d think that would have taught her a lesson. Of course we know it didn’t. There was a one in four chance that a true random assignment would land the case (once Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained indictments) in her court and damn if Cannon and Trump didn’t come up winners. Despite some false indicators Cannon would at least semi-behave over time it’s become clear she intends to do everything she can to help Trump beat the rap.
On a NATIONAL SECURITY case! (Yes, I still get furious when it’s referred to as a documents, or even classified documents case. It’s WAY bigger than that)
Like many a criminal defendant Trump considers delay the next best thing to acquittal. I keep saying this is a simple and straightforward case because it freaking is. And having once held a security clearance and having some experience dealing with handling the discovery of improperly secured classified information I know something about the topic. And what would have already happened to anyone other than Donald Trump for what he’s done. However, after a few weeks journalists “got the memo” from the news bosses and started talking like this is THE most complicated criminal case that has ever been tried. More than every other case in history combined, or so they make it seem. In the process they’ve given judge Cannon more than enough cover to play games with entertaining Trump’s desire to push his trial past next year’s election. So he can pardon himself.
It became increasingly clear Cannon was setting the table to give Trump what he wanted. Okay, what he wants is for her to dismiss the charges (and with prejudice) but even Cannon (and probably Trump too) know that would be a bridge too far. He’s spent his life delaying civil trials and running out the clock on them and even some potential criminal cases too so this is familiar stuff for him. A lapdog judge willing to push his trial date on a case where he was sure to lose even with a friendly judge would do.
Cannon as I said has given indications she’s willing to delay the scheduled May 24 trial date and with her latest ruling on a hearing for pre-trial motions that won’t take place until MARCH of 2024 she’s all but assured there won’t be a trial at the end of May. Or even next summer and of course once the nominating conventions are over how she will ask can Trump be expected to run for President while having to sit in her courtroom? It’s also worth noting (and I have in a prior article) that she’s been trying to “block” for Trump – as in interfere with other jurisdiction’s cases by insisting (LYING!) that by golly proceedings will start in her courtroom come late May.
Well as Raw Story reports judge “Loose” Cannon might have screwed the pooch with her antics. Or, to put it more crudely she tried to “peg” Jack Smith and has done it to Trump instead. (Yeah, when I first heard the term in a dirty joke I was clueless but as you can see from the Wikipedia link it’s a real thing) Early on the article quotes MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner:
“In my three decades as a federal prosecutor, I have seen that judges are understandably loath to force a defense team into ‘back-to-back’ trials,” wrote Kirschner.
Cannon might have thought everyone would defer to her but an experienced, highly qualified and no-nonsense federal judge in DC runs a tight ship. Judge Tanya Chutkan isn’t having any of Trump’s game playing and bullsh*t and is moving things right along. Trump and his lawyers don’t like it but her rulings are solid and WILL almost certainly hold up on appeal and by god Trump is going to trial in DC on January 6 related charges. In MARCH of 2024. (Work is already underway on questionaires for prospective jurors to start the voir dire process) That trial is likely to be done by late April or early May 2024. As I said, judge Chutkan runs a tight ship and will move things along. If Cannon though Chutkan was some shrinking violet that would quake at the thought of jumping ahead of her in trying Trump she has learned the hard way she (Cannon) is every bit as small time as a typical Trump nominee can be.
Now, given the ridiculous amount of time Cannon has given Trump to prepare for the FL case (which with a non-lapdog judge would be starting in a week or two) there’s no reason he couldn’t go on trial in FL in late May. Regardless of the “back-to-back” concerns Kirschner cites. However, Cannon never had any intention of starting that trial in May. Or anytime next summer. She could have scheduled the FL trial for say late Fed. or sometime in March of next year and actually accomplished what she set out to do which is block another federal (and probably state – Georgia) prosecution of Trump before the election and taken her chances on steering the trial towards if not an acquittal then a hung jury. And she could have strung out the actual trial itself to that end.
However, she tried to be too clever and left an opening which judge Chutkan drove right into. Worse, Cannon might find herself forced to give Trump exactly what he wanted (or thought he did) which is a trial date after the election. However, Fani Willis is a STATE prosecutor and not bound by DOJ policy. If she wants to start her RICO case in August next year or even a bit sooner (and why not?) she can and by all appearances intends to do just that. Imagine Trump on trial in a state court (televised too) while campaigning for President!
So Cannon tried to proverbially screw Jack Smith in the “backside” and instead has likely done it to Trump instead. Which is why I began with that old anonymous saying “Be careful what you wish for” because Trump (and Cannon) wanted to put off Trump’s FL trial until after the election. When a (in his hopes and dreams) a President Trump 2.0 can either shut down the prosecution or pardon himself if he’s convicted during the transition. But Cannon’s screwup of giving Trump exactly what he wanted could result in the bitterest lesson of Trump’s life.