Federal Judge Fights Back Against Efforts to Remove Aileen Cannon From Classified Documents Trial 

Victor Moussa / shutterstock.com
Victor Moussa / shutterstock.com

Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated by Judge Aileen Cannon’s refusal to play along with them in former President Donald Trump’s upcoming classified documents case. In April, the embattled judge faced over a thousand complaints in one week alone. 

Critics are accusing her of stalling, pointing out that Trump appointed her and that she has no intention of moving the case forward until after the 2024 election.  

A federal judge has come to Cannon’s rescue, however. In an order issued on May 22, Chief Judge William Pryor of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stated that he reviewed four of the orchestrated complaints and found them to lack merit and sufficient evidence to substantiate misconduct claims. 

In a stunning display of hypocrisy, critics are accusing Cannon of not being “an honest broker of the law.” Even more astonishing, these same critics argue that when a judge’s impartiality comes under question, that judge must be removed according to federal law. 

In a recent “Justice Matters” podcast, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner accuses Cannon of “bringing the case to a screeching halt” by “declining to resolve motions in a timely matter.” At the end of his podcast, he gave viewers instructions on filing a complaint with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to advocate for Cannon’s recusal from the case. 

Pryor said that many of Cannon’s complaints involve requests that she be removed from the case entirely. According to his ruling, using the judicial complaint process is not the way to expedite such an action. He insisted that there was no evidence presented in any of the cases that would lead to Cannon’s removal from the case. 

“Although many of the complaints allege an improper motive in delaying the case, the allegations are speculative and unsupported by any evidence,” Pryor wrote. He observed that the complaints did not prove that Cannon was required to recuse herself from the case. 

He added that many complaints question her rulings or the delay in issuing rulings in the documents case. Pryor has now instructed the appeals court clerk to stop accepting duplicate complaints against Cannon from May 15 onward.  

For several months, Cannon, a 2020 Trump appointee serving in Fort Pierce who was assigned the Trump case following a 2023 federal grand jury indictment, has faced ongoing media scrutiny for allegedly delaying the case at the request of defense attorneys. Defense attorneys have consistently argued in court filings that the case should be postponed until after the November presidential election. 

The defense team has also submitted numerous motions to dismiss the case, citing claims that the Biden Administration’s Justice Department is engaging in a vindictive prosecution against the former president, that Special Counsel Jack Smith was appointed without proper authority, that attorney-client privilege was breached during the investigation, and that the FBI conducted a “raid” on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, among other allegations. 

Weinstein also notes that the number of complaints does not mean they have merit. 

Team Biden does not play well when faced with the rules they created for a game they invented. To them, Cannon lacks impartiality, which may mean they lose their chance to “get Trump” again. Ironically, it’s the same “lack of impartiality” by their handpicked judge, Juan Merchan, which led to Trump’s conviction in the hush money trial late last week. But Democrats are quick to cry “foul” when their rules are used against them. 

For her part, Cannon is carefully weighing how to proceed in a case rife with perils. Three other criminal cases are pending against Trump, each complicating this case differently. This trial involves classified evidence, adding complexity due to the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) and the challenges of interpreting the Espionage Act. The fact that Trump is a former President and the judge, Cannon, is a relatively new appointee further complicates matters. 

One complication, for example, is that Trump and his lawyers can only review specific evidence in a secure facility in Florida. At the same time, Democrats ensured that Trump was tied to New York for two other court cases.  

In essence, their eagerness to see a Trump conviction resulted in the delay of a case they are now desperate to move forward ahead of the election. Now, their overeagerness is biting them back. The Biden administration may need to rely on just one carefully orchestrated conviction to move public sentiment back to Team Biden. It also seems that their lawfare strategy has been an epic failure so far.