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Critics Lambaste Judge for Indefinitely Delaying Trump’s Classified Docs Trial

Critics of the judge’s recent move are calling for the special counsel to request her removal from the case.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump stand outside of the Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse on March 1, 2024, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing former President Donald Trump’s federal trial regarding his improper transfer of classified documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office, has decided to delay the trial indefinitely.

Cannon issued her ruling on Tuesday, citing several pretrial considerations that have yet to be resolved before a formal trial can begin. But many legal experts responded to the action by saying that such considerations have been incredibly generous to Trump, who is seeking to become president again in this fall’s elections, and who, if he wins, can appoint an attorney general who will dismiss the case altogether.

Trump is accused of removing thousands of government documents, hundreds of them marked classified, from the White House after his departure from office. Public evidence of Trump’s actions demonstrates that, after agreeing to turn over the classified documents to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the early summer of 2022, he knowingly held on to at least 100 additional materials, stashing them in various unsecured locations at Mar-a-Lago mere steps from areas that could be accessed by guests.

Because the charges against Trump involve classified documents, several considerations have to be made regarding how the documents are presented as evidence at trial, in compliance with rules established under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA). It’s not unusual for trials to undergo brief delays in order to hear CIPA concerns from both the prosecution and defense teams, and Cannon made clear in her ruling that this was why she was indefinitely suspending the start of the trial.

The court “determines that finalization of a trial date at this juncture — before resolution of the myriad and interconnected pre-trial and CIPA issues remaining and forthcoming — would be imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions before the Court,” Cannon stated in her opinion.

The order included a rescheduling of pretrial hearings, with the latest occurring in late July. The delays, plus the possibility of other motions from Trump’s legal team between now and then, mean the trial is unlikely to take place before the election.

Cannon, who is inexperienced in these types of trials, has been subject to widespread criticism from legal experts, who have noted that the delays she’s granting are unusual and that she has made exceptions for Trump in pretrial motions despite him now being a private citizen. Critics have also pointed out that Trump was the one who appointed Cannon to the position in which she now serves.

“Her incompetence is so gross that I think it clearly creates the perception of partiality and her attempt to put her thumb on the scale,” said former White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who served in the Trump administration but has since become a vocal critic of his former boss.

Some commentators have even suggested that DOJ special counsel Jack Smith should seek to have Cannon removed from the case.

“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 X. “Nothing to lose now, everything to gain. Public has a right to a fair, speedy, & impartial trial.”

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