Trump’s favorite pet judge isn’t just tanking the National Security (it’s way more than a “documents” case!) case against Trump down in Florida. It’s worse than that.
In a recent ruling if one didn’t look past the headline it seemed like federal Judge and Trump Toadie Aileen Cannon might be cutting back on her clear favoritism for Trump. It was the part about preserving the May trial date that too many found encouraging. As I read the very first story however my reaction was “what the hell?” Before I was done it seemed crystal clear Cannon has, and never had ANY intention of allowing the case to go to trial next May. Or anytime before the Nov. 2024 election. Nope. For Trump, if he can’t get every criminal case against him (four – currently) dismissed outright as in right freaking NOW the next best thing is to have ALL of them delaying past the election.
It’s clear that should the worst happen and he were to get back into the Oval Office he’d waste no time pardoning himself. Probably a pardon order would be on the lectern where he’d deliver his “American Carnage, 2.0” inaugural speech. That of course wouldn’t help in the two STATE cases since he can only pardon himself for federal crimes, but there’d be a second document for him to sign, authorizing the seizure of all materials in the state cases as well as the arrest of those involved in his prosecution. Tell me you don’t believe he’d do just that.
The simplest, most straightforward and limited prosecution of Trump is the one in FL. We don’t know exactly how many classified documents Trump stole and took to his various residences but what matters is that Jack Smith chose to ONLY prosecute Trump for a relative handful. We know there were many hundreds of classified documents Trump eventually, after tons of haggling gave back to the National Archives and/or classifying agencies. Finally, he claimed via affidavit everything had been given back, but the govt. knew that wasn’t true and got a search warrant for Mar A Lago. Federal agents found an additional 130 (or so) classified documents including some at the highest levels.
It was only THESE, and the events that transpired just before and between the time that “I’ve given everything back” affidavit and the search that Smith filed charges on. Even then he limited things. Only 31 counts of retaining specific classified documents are in the indictment. In other words, Smith didn’t even bother with a hundred potential charges/counts he could have filed. He wanted to limit the scope of the case, precisely to get a trial underway before election season heated up. There is no reason, NONE that jury selection shouldn’t be beginning next month.
Cannon pretended for a bit to be a real jurist but quickly showed the ugly Trump orange lining on the inside of her judge’s robe. Before you knew it, because the case “the most incredible, complex case in the history of cases, no one has ever seen or even dreamed a case could be so complex” the trial date was set for next May. Many people including me felt it was likely she’d find a way to push that date out, and give Trump what he wanted which was a trial date after the election.
Cannon’s rulings have been questionable enough that some legal experts have said merit consideration of having her removed from the case. Those same people however have also admitted that’s a tough thing to do. However, as this Newsweek article reports it’s on the table again. The article claims a former DOJ official says prosecutor Jack Smith is considering attempting to have Cannon removed. That’s precious little info. but still interesting. Of course, others have been willing to speak publicly and often on the matter:
Andrew Weissmann, an attorney and lecturer who spent more than 30 years as a DOJ prosecutor, said that chief prosecutor, Jack Smith, should take action. “Judge Cannon’s bias is showing over and over again. Smith has to be weighing whether, when, and how to seek her reversal by the Court of Appeals and her removal,” Weissmann wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
He’s not the only one. Given Cannon’s most recent ruling the calls to go over her head are going to increase. At issue is scheduling of motion hearings which are part of any trial. In this case since classified information is involved CIPA has to be followed and even Cannon knew not to grant Trump’s request to have a new SCIFF at Mar A Lago so he and his attorneys could have all that material under his roof again. And there is after all a SCIFF at the federal building/courthouse a short drive from Mar A Lago where most of the information can be held. A handful are so sensitive they are in DC. In any case, at issue all of a sudden is Section 5 of CIPA rules for a case like Trump’s. Jack Smith’s team filed a motion regarding it, which boils down to Trump/his lawyers specifying WHICH documents THEY want to use at trial.
Cannon refused to rule.
It’s a simple, straightforward and in other cases involving classified information standard thing for the defense to inform the court/prosecutors what classified information they intend to use at trial. Cannon agrees with Team Trump that by golly they will need WAY more time to figure that out! Legal experts say she’s really pushing the envelope now. She’s revealed bias before but I must again state that according to legal experts it’s still a risk to try and replace a judge who’s shown such bias. And unlikely to succeed. However at some point a line can be crossed. If the initial part of the linked article can be believed then Jack Smith is seriously weighing whether he’s got enough to appeal to the Chief Judge or even the 11th Circuit. The latter at the very least could, since they’ve done it twice before slap down Cannon and get a date, a reasonable one for Trump’s lawyers to commit to what documents they will use in their defense.
However, there’s a bigger problem. The prior motions schedule has been scrapped. Cannon isn’t just saying the Section 5 motion won’t be heard until March. Earlier this month she delayed setting hearings on other matters and now everyone (except Trump’s worst fears are officially realized:
In her latest order, Cannon wrote that she would set all remaining deadlines in March 2024. The order is a “clear indication May trial date won’t happen,” posted Brandon Van Grack on X. He is a former federal prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team.
He goes on to say:
“DOJ’s request was very reasonable—defendants already have 5000 classified docs so let us know which ones they want to use,” Van Grack added. “Refusal to schedule hearing shows the Court is not going to move with urgency.”
He joins experts like former federal prosecutors Andrew Weisman and Joyce Vance, national security attorney Bradley Moss and others in saying there is no way with the delay until March of any hearings on motions that a trial, or even jury selection can start in May. Cannon is doing exactly what Trump has asked her to do and which we feared she would, find a means to get away with delaying the trial to give Trump a chance to be re-elected and remove himself from legal jeopardy. However, as bad as that is it’s not the worst of it.
EVERYONE knows there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that Trump’s National Security trial down in Florida is going to start in May, or even before the election. At least with Cannon in charge. (Frankly, it’s clear Trump’s in charge!) Cannon isn’t fooling anyone regarding her intentions. However, she’s insisting that her trial date in May is SET! What she’s doing is trying to “block” for Trump, to prevent other trials from taking place in the belief (and with justification) that the Florida case will take precedence over other cases. I’ve seen speculation already about how both of the state prosecutions could be affected by this.
Cannon can’t control, at least not without major risk to herself what happens in judge Chutkan’s courtroom in the DC trial on January 6 matters but from where I sit Cannon has made some subtle attempts to affect it. If Cannon can somehow figure out a way to blow up that case and put herself at the head of the line she by god will. You can be sure of that and I have no doubt her every waking moment is now devoted to that single goal. It’s not like once respected and highly capable lawyers who’ve gotten dosed with Trump-orange Kool Aid aren’t willing to throw away their reputations and careers to help her.
As I see it federal judge Aileen Cannon is actively engaged in Obstruction of Justice and worse, under the color (and protection) of judicial authority. If there was, as is carved in the marble above the entrance to the Supreme Court building “Equal Justice Under Law” the Chief judge in her Circuit would already have reassigned the case. There have always been grounds to do so from her lack of experience to her antics that got her two beatdowns from her solidly conservative appellate court. Bias. I suppose the appellate court can’t do anything unless a motion is filed with them (any lawyers out there can weigh in on that one) but clearly Cannon is trying to throw the case before her, and prevent other cases from being heard.
As much faith as I’ve had in Jack Smith I worry. We put too much faith in Mueller. Of course, Mueller was called out of retirement and not really the same guy we’d thought he was but still. Smith has one hell of decision to make.