Judge Cannon Serves Trump Some Cake
If Judge Cannon was going to continue calling every ball in Trump’s favor, I’m not at all sure why she felt the need to appoint a special master to review the documents the government seized from Mar-a-Lago. We now know that when the FBI seized those documents, they found confidential, secret and top secret documents left lying around in the former president’s desk drawers and storage areas. And that’s to say nothing of all the classified folders found with their contents missing.
That’s not a situation that would stir empathy in most judges, but Judge Cannon is not most judges. Today, in a six-page order, she rejected in the most significant parts of Judge/special master Raymond Dearie’s “Amended Case Management Plan,” despite appointing Judge Dearie herself. The Plan is a schedule of what each party has to do and the deadline for doing it.
No real surprises here. The name of the game is delay. Judge Cannon countermanded Judge Dearie’s streamlined schedule, inserting more delay into the process at every step. Under her calendar, Trump would have until November 4 to file a document designating items he believes are privileged (which would keep them out of DOJ’s hands). Trump and DOJ have ten days from that date, so until November 14, after the mid-term elections, to try and work out any dispute. And then the judge starts to review materials. As Judge Cannon notes, there are 11,000 documents consisting of about 200,000 pages. So, after disallowing a schedule that would have required Trump to make designations on a rolling schedule, which would speed things up, Judge Cannon gave Judge Dearie until December 16 to complete his review.
If, as seems likely, Judge Dearie is unable to move more quickly that Judge Cannon’s new deadline (because all of Trump’s deadlines have moved back, meaning he can’t get started), that means that for a period of two and one-half more months, DOJ will be unable to use any of the unclassified materials it seized at Mar-a-Lago to further either its criminal investigation or its national security review. All this against a backdrop of documents that are almost certain to be mostly government records that Trump has no more right to possess than you or I do.
Judge Cannon rescinded Judge Dearie’s orders that gave Trump until today (Friday, September 30) to dispute the FBI’s list of items seized from Mar-a-Lago. Trump has been suggesting in public—despite offering no evidence whatsoever to support his assertions—that the FBI might have planted evidence against him. His lawyers would have had to make that argument in a court pleading if they wanted to formally pursue it under Dearie’s plan, but Judge Cannon stripped that requirement out of the order. Trump is free to continue to lying to the public, or for that matter, to continue his crazy assertions of secret document declassifications. If Trump was any other litigant, the court might well have imposed a gag order on public discussion of the case at this point, but instead, Judge Cannon has given Trump a license to lie.
During the hearing on this matter that he held last week, Judge Dearie told Trump’s lawyers, “[m]y view is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” But apparently that doesn’t hold for Judge Cannon. Her ruling leaves the former President free to lie to the public with impunity. She’s happy to serve up a couple of big slices of cake on a golden plate and watch as Trump eats it.
In other news, Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the District of Columbia used the most magnificent language to reject the claims of a January 6 defendant that the prosecution was about politics. “You were trying to stop the singular thing that makes America America, the peaceful transfer of power,” she told him. Amen and more of this.
And, this afternoon, Jury selection was completed in the Oath Keeper’s case. They go to trial on Monday, when the court will hear opening statements, with a jury of nine men and seven women (a few of whom will be alternates.) This case could end up being the connection between the violent militia folks who rallied on January 6 and the folks in the Willard War Room, leading on up to Trump. There are no guarantees. But already, there are whispers about Roger Stone’s roll. Next week is going to be just as busy as this week has been.
We’re in this together,