Judge Cannon Runs Interference Disregarding DOJ Concerns For Witness Safety Giving Trump A Win

Source: Wikimedia / Flickr/Trump White House Archived

It’s been all over the news recently that documents seized from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort may legally paint him into a corner. However, a recent ruling by Judge Aileen Cannon may offer a glimmer of hope for Trump’s lawyers. Let’s see what happened and what it means for the DOJ’s case.

The Department of Justice Attempts to Shield Some Legal Filings

Last week, Jack Smith and his team met with Judge Cannon to explain why they needed to shield certain parts of their filing from Trump’s defense team. According to them, there was sensitive information within the filing.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Judge Aileen Cannon

Among the sensitive information the filing contained, Smith’s team contended, was the name of classified witnesses and the codename of a related FBI investigation.

Not Good Enough For A Block

Unfortunately, Judge Cannon didn’t see why the DOJ’s lawyers blocked access to this information. She said that the grounds the DOJ cited for blocking the defense lawyers were not reasonable enough for her to redact that information from the filing.

Source: Flickr/Department of Justice

While she did note that some of the things the DOJ mentioned did constitute a good reason for redacting or keeping filed information secret, she also stated that the DOJ didn’t provide a compelling enough reason for this to happen with the filing.

What’s This Case About?

Former President Donald Trump has been accused of taking classified documents with him when he left office in 2020. For a long time, he had denied that he had any documents whatsoever but eventually turned over a handful of documents to the authorities.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Upon deeper investigation, it was found that the former president had more than just these documents. After further urging, he turned over a few more documents, bringing the total to around 200.

The Raid On the Resort

Investigators were still missing documents, so they pushed the issue further. After showing the timeline of documents they had constructed, they got a warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

That search resulted in a further 100 documents bearing the “Top Secret” seal. In all, it’s estimated that Trump was in possession of over three hundred top-secret documents, which he took from the presidential office after he was defeated in the last election.

What Is Trump Charged With?

Some people might think that the former president might be charged with treason for secreting documents away from the Oval Office. However, it’s not nearly as simple as that. Trump faces a long list of charges.

Source: Flickr/RestrictedData

Among the charges he is asked to answer include scheming to conceal false statements, hiding a document in a federal investigation, corruptly concealing a document, retention of national defense documents, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Not Trump’s First Rodeo

The former president is no stranger to courtrooms. He is accused of fraud in New York State, and the evidence against him is pretty good. In Manhattan, he’s already been found guilty of sexual assault. There’s also a pending case against him in Manhattan for paying hush money to women who were accusing him of sexual assault.

Source: Flickr/Kevin Burkett

In Fulton County, he’s accused of conspiracy, where 18 other men and the former president may have tried to influence election results illegally. In over thirty states, there have been movements filed to obstruct Trump from running for office because of his involvement in the January riots at the Capitol.

First Federal Charges

Trump may have several cases pending in different states, but the Mar-a-Lago case and the documents associated with it is the first time Trump has been charged federally. All other matters against him are filed in state courts.

Source: Flickr/deltaMike

Since the DOJ is usually very cautious in bringing cases against individuals, they had to have a certain degree of certainty before filing this case against him. Since the DOJ knew the political maelstrom they were stirring, the filing indicates the strength of the case against him.

Cannon Might Find Herself in Hot Water

There are rumors circulating that Jack Smith will seek to have Judge Cannon removed from the trial. This might be because she granted Trump’s lawyers access to the documents, but it may be due to other conflicting interests.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Judge Cannon was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and assumed her duties in 2020. The president who appointed her to that position was none other than Donald Trump himself.

Will Such a Move Be Successful?

Smith’s team might have lost this particular battle, but they’re dug in for a long campaign against Trump’s lawyers. The denial of their request to keep information hidden from the defense might have been the trigger to attempt to remove Judge Cannon from the case.

Source: Bloomberg/Zach Gibson

Yet it’s unlikely that they will force her to abandon the case. Typically, judges can only be removed from a case if there’s an apparent conflict of interest. The denial of a delay-of-case action by a judge is hardly enough to prove a conflict of interest.

Too Favorable To The Defense

Experts have noted that her ruling in favor of the defense may spark an interlocutory appeal from Smith’s team. The appeal would be based on seeing Cannon’s ruling as being too favorable to the defense while ignoring the fundamental matters of secrecy and protection.

Source: Unsplash

Section Four of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) allows the US government to delete or summarize classified information that may come up as discovery during a case. Allowing the defense unfettered access to these documents denies the government that right.

A Tug-of-War

At the moment, Smith’s team sees this decision as a loss, but the loss is only temporary. Other legal experts have noted that it is highly irregular for a judge to do this, but Judge Cannon has not yet commented on her decision to the press.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Trump’s lawyers can count this as a small win, although the case stacked against the former president is formidable. Whether they can manage to prevent their client from going to jail remains to be seen. For now, we can only watch the courts to see the next move in this drama.

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Charlotte Clad

Written by Charlotte Clad

Charlotte Clad is a brilliant writer who possesses the remarkable ability to craft content that goes viral and leaves an indelible mark on readers. With an innate passion for storytelling and an unwavering commitment to her craft, Charlotte has consistently pushed the boundaries of creativity to captivate audiences worldwide.

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