Senior Judges Advised Aileen Cannon to Pass on Trump Docs Case: Report

Florida District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s handling of Donald Trump’s classified documents case — and her perceived favoritism towards the former president — has been under a wave of national scrutiny for some time now. According to a report from The New York Times, the growing ethical questions could have been avoided had Cannon heeded the advice of senior judges in the Southern District of Florida, who counseled her to pass the case to a more experienced judge.

According to the Times, when Cannon drew the case in 2023 two judges, including Chief Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga and a second unidentified judge, advised her against accepting the assignment. The unidentified judge told Cannon that her home courthouse in Fort Piece was a considerable distance from Miami, and lacked the secure facilities needed to store many of the classified evidentiary documents related to the case.

Altonaga took a much more direct approach, reportedly telling Cannon that her oversight of the case would be compromised by past controversy relating to her treatment of Trump’s legal issues. Specifically, Cannon’s controversial 2022 decision to grant the former president’s request for a “special master” to review the documents seized during the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago, a decision that delayed federal prosecutors’ ability to review evidence. Cannon’s decision was sharply rebuked by 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, who wrote in their decision that the unprecedented nature of Trump’s case did not give “the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation.”

Cannon rejected the advice from the two senior judges and went ahead and took up the case.

Cannon was appointed to Florida’s District Court by Trump in 2020. Before her appointment, Cannon worked as a corporate lawyer with little experience in criminal trials. She had never held a position as a judge.

In her oversight of the case, Cannon has made several decisions that have seemed to disproportionally favor the former president. Critically, Cannon ruled to indefinitely delay the start of the former president’s trial, all but certainly pushing it back to after the November election. The judge has been accused of slow-walking major rulings and decisions and barred the Justice Department from using allegations that Trump showed classified documents to individuals unauthorized to use them as a basis for their indictment. 
The discrepancy has gotten so blatant that close allies of the former president previously went so far as to describe Cannon to Rolling Stoneas a “godsend” to the former president and his campaign. Earlier this week, undercover audio recorded in March and provided exclusively to Rolling Stone showed Trump ally and adviser Roger Stone speculating that Cannon was poised to dismiss the case. She hasn’t gone that far, but MAGA diehards aren’t likely to have many complaints about how she’s ruled.

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