“Already an embarrassment”: Legal experts shred Judge Aileen Cannon for granting Trump “delay”

The federal judge presiding over Donald Trump’s classified documents case on Friday temporarily paused a series of significant pre-trial deadlines pertaining to prosecutors’ sharing of sensitive materials that the former president is entitled to while building his defense, The Messenger reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon authorized a paperless order delaying the deadlines she’d previously set for October 2023 through May 2024, when the trial for Trump and his three co-defendants in the case is scheduled to start in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Though Cannon’s order doesn’t address the May 20 start date for the trial itself, it does state that all of the scheduled deadlines connected to classified information are on hold “pending consideration and resolution” of a Trump motion proposing a new timeline that was filed last month.

That Sept. 22 filing accused special counsel Jack Smith’s team of making  “unjust efforts…to foist rushed CIPA litigation on the Court, President Trump, and his co-defendants.”

A separate motion filed Wednesday night by Trump’s legal team has, however, made the trial schedule a point of contention as the GOP frontrunner has requested a delay of at least six months in the start date of the trial until “in or after mid-November 2024,” pushing it past Election Day. 

The motion cited ongoing legal litigation over the sensitive evidence alongside scheduling conflicts with Trump’s other federal criminal case in Washington, D.C. — of which he filed a motion to dismiss late Thursday — regarding alleged election obstruction. 

“The March 4, 2023 trial date in the District of Columbia, and the underlying schedule in that case, currently require President Trump and his lawyers to be in two places at once,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the Wednesday filing. 

Some legal experts questioned Cannon’s Friday order and suggested that it could pave the way for Trump to delay the trial date.

“Judge Cannon puts CIPA deadlines on hold until she rules on Trump’s pending motions,” national security lawyer Bradley Moss wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Now the real question becomes how long it takes her to make a ruling.”

“Not a good sign for those who want a trial in May. We haven’t even reached the point in CIPA where the court has truly difficult decisions to make,” tweeted Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department official who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team.

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“Realistically, delays can sometimes be necessary to accommodate issues involving classified discovery, but this seems over much,” former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance added. “This is a judge who is happy to see the case move slowly.”

“She is going to delay and delay. She has already been an embarrassment and it’s going to get much worse,” predicted Georgia State Law professor Eric Segall.

Trump was first federally indicted in June over his alleged illegal retention of national security documents after leaving office. The special counsel brought a superseding indictment against him in late July, adding charges related to alleged obstruction of government efforts to retrieve the materials and bringing the total number of counts against Trump in the case to 40. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

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