“Now I’m concerned”: Legal experts alarmed over “Judge Cannon’s bias” in new order setting up delay

The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s documents case in South Florida on Thursday denied a request from special counsel Jack Smith to set a deadline on issues related to classified materials in the case.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, denied Smith’s request to schedule a hearing under Section 5 of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), where a defendant has to disclose what classified information he intends to use at trial.

Cannon in her order said she would set all remaining deadlines in March 2024.

The order is a “clear indication May trial date won’t happen,” tweeted Brandon Van Grack, a former federal prosecutor on special counsel Bob 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,” he added. “Refusal to schedule hearing shows the Court is not going to move with urgency.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance agreed that Cannon is “on track to delay past the election.”

Some legal experts argued 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,” tweeted national security attorney Bradley Moss.

“I have long been opposed to Smith’s team getting the 11th Circuit involved with respect to Cannon’s scheduling rulings. I just didn’t see it as worthwhile and expected any such step would cause the very delay Smith was trying to avoid anyway,” he added. “At this point, it might be needed.”

But Moss said “the problem” is that Cannon “has not done anything (yet) that triggers the ordinary emergency statutory appeal relief afforded by CIPA. Her actions so far have been only procedural and scheduling,” meaning that Smith has “limited options.”

Former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann argued that “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,” he wrote.

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“Not scheduling a CIPA section 5 hearing, which is routine, is a clear sign she is just as much in the bag for Trump as when she issued her horrendous pretrial rulings (both reversed in scathing language by the conservative 11th Circuit),” he added. “What a piece of work is she.”

MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin pointed out that by the time May 2024 rolls around, Trump will be three days away from the opening of his D.C. federal election interference trial, “which itself could bleed into May.”

“I’ll predict now that the date for the classified docs trial will slip away like, well, a Trump-held classified doc,” she wrote.

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