Aileen Cannon’s Removal Being Weighed by Jack Smith—Attorney

The prosecutor in Donald Trump‘s classified documents case is considering whether to seek the judge’s removal from the case, a former Department of Justice [DOJ] attorney has said.

Aileen Cannon, appointed a federal judge by the Trump administration, has refused to set a deadline for when the former president must list the classified documents he intends to use in his trial.

Trump is charged with illegally retaining sensitive materials after he left the White House in January 2021 and of attempting to obstruct the federal attempt to retrieve the documents from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The former president has long denied all wrongdoing, frequently accusing the Biden administration of having weaponized the FBI and DOJ to try to hinder his 2024 presidential campaign, where he is the frontrunner for GOP candidate. On Friday, Newsweek sought email comment from Donald Trump’s attorney and from Judge Cannon through the South Florida federal court communications office.

The handling of classified documents has added complexity and delay in the case. Most of the documents are kept in special storage rooms in Miami, while documents with the highest classification have to be hand-delivered to lawyers by special “intelligence community” couriers before being taken back again when the attorneys are finished reading them.

By not setting a deadline for Trump’s list of the classified documents he wants to use, the trial will likely be delayed, legal experts have said.

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.

On Thursday, Judge Cannon denied Smith’s request that she set a deadline for Trump’s CIPA Section 5 application. This is where a defendant is required to disclose what classified info he intends to use at trial. Cannon said that the deadline will be set in March 2024, likely pushing back the trial date.

Weissmann wrote on X that he is discussing Cannon’s ruling in more detail on his MSNBC podcast Prosecuting Donald Trump. The latest episode, “Cannon, Cameras and Accountants”, dissects “the pernicious nature of the latest Judge Cannon ruling and its portent,” Weissmann added.

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Newsweek this was “bad news for prosecutors” because if Trump, who is the GOP 2024 frontrunner, is elected to the White House, “he can’t be prosecuted.”

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.

“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.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who has previously criticized Cannon on her Civil Discourse blog, wrote on X that the judge is “on track to delay past the election.”

Some legal experts said that Smith could turn to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to try to reverse Cannon’s scheduling order.

“Unreal. Now I’m concerned. No way this thing gets to trial in May 2024,” posted national security attorney Bradley Moss on X.

Cannon’s latest order comes after the judge agreed to keep a May trial date just a week ago, writing that she wanted to still ensure “the public’s right to a speedy trial.”

However, in early November, Cannon delayed pretrial hearings, something Trump’s legal team had been seeking for months.

“I’m just having a hard time seeing how realistically this work can be accomplished in this compressed period of time, given the realities that we’re facing,” Cannon said in court.

Cannon said that, given all the legal complexity around the handling of the classified documents, she may not be able to keep to the schedule she set in July.

Cannon said in October that the former president’s jury selection and trial will begin in May 2024, in a Trump-leaning county. Smith had sought a December 2023 trial date, and Trump’s legal team had argued for a start after the November 2024 election.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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