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2 Judges Advised Trump-Appointed Judge Aileen Cannon to Step Away From Case

Cannon’s direct superior was among the judges who suggested she should step aside.

The Alto Lee Adams Sr. United States Courthouse, where U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is holding a hearing regarding former President Donald Trump on May 22, 2024, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

New reporting from The New York Times details how Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump-appointed federal judge who is overseeing the trial regarding Trump’s removal of classified government documents from the White House after leaving office, was encouraged by other judges to remove herself from the case.

According to the Times report, Cannon was addressed by two judges within the Southern District of Florida who asked her to consider stepping away from the case, including her direct superior, Chief Judge Cecilia Altonaga.

When judges are asked by their peers to consider such a move, they can opt to comply but are not required to.

It’s unclear why the judges asked Cannon to consider leaving the case. Such an action is highly unusual, though not unheard of, and usually occurs when a judge who has little experience is still learning the ropes in their new position.

Cannon certainly fits that bill, as she had very little trial experience before becoming a judge. She has also been criticized throughout the pre-trial process for appearing to show favoritism toward Trump, issuing several orders that play directly into his lawyers’ strategy of delaying the trial as much as possible.

Cannon has, for example, taken many actions that have gone against precedent and norms for the Southern District of Florida, including refusing to delegate some pre-trial motions to a magistrate judge — a move that would enable a more timely approach to the case than what she has allowed.

She has also been slow to respond to the pre-trial motions that have been made within her court, resulting in an indefinitely postponed trial, despite both prosecutors and the defense team previously stating that they could be ready to go to trial this summer.

Indeed, a court hearing on Friday will determine whether to entertain a dubious motion by Trump’s lawyers made in February — that the entire trial should be dismissed because special counsel Jack Smith shouldn’t have been allowed to charge Trump in the first place, as he was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland and not confirmed by the Senate.

Such a motion would be an extreme change to established precedent, as special counsels and prosecutors have been allowed to issue charges before. But rather than dismissing the motion outright from the beginning, Cannon has allowed it to move forward, waiting several months before allowing a hearing on the matter to take place. She also invited outside groups to weigh in on the motion, another unusual move.

Cannon’s actions are advantageous to Trump, as his lawyers are employing delay tactics in order to help him avoid a trial altogether. If Trump is elected president in November, he can appoint a new attorney general that will likely dismiss the charges against him.

Legal experts have said that Cannon’s actions in the pre-trial stage reveal a pro-Trump bias.

“We’re way beyond the point of characterizing her merely as inexperienced. … The reality is, she is slow and she’s slow on purpose,” said Ty Cobb, who represented Trump in the early years of his presidency. “She has already delayed this case far beyond where it needs to be.”

Legal experts also criticized Cannon in May, when she decided to delay the trial indefinitely without establishing a new, even if tentative, start date — an action that is highly atypical.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances of MAGA Judge Cannon’s handling of the docs case, I do believe Smith must ask for her removal on grounds of both bias & incompetence,” former assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli said on social media last month.

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