District Judge overseeing Trump’s classified docs case was pressured to step down
06/23/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

A pair of federal judges in South Florida reportedly encouraged District Judge Aileen Cannon to step aside from the criminal prosecution of former president Donald Trump when the case was first assigned to her last year.

This is according to a New York Times report, which maintains that the judge’s peers had serious reservations about her suitability to oversee the criminal case against the former president for the way he handled classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

One of the judges in question is the Southern District of Florida chief judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. The other federal judge was not identified in the report. Both judges reportedly got in touch with Judge Cannon by phone to try to convince her to step down.

The unnamed judge reportedly told her that a judge who was based closer to a district courthouse in Miami might be a better fit, especially considering that it already had a secure facility suitable for holding highly classified information; Judge Cannon’s federal courthouse is two hours away in Fort Pierce and did not have a secure facility when she was assigned the case, although one has been built in the meantime.

After this outreach effort failed to yield the desired outcome, Judge Altonaga stepped in with a call of her own in which she argued that judging the case would be bad optics for Cannon considering her previous actions during the criminal investigation of Trump that led to his indictment. This was a reference to the public backlash she faced over how she handled Trump’s lawsuit challenging the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, which some believe showed bias in favor of Trump.

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She has also been accused of slowing down the pace of the case to such an extent that a trial before the election seems extremely unlikely; the NYT complains that if Trump takes office again, he could simply order the Justice Department to drop this case if it hasn’t started before then.

Critics also note that she was nominated by Trump when he was president to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District Court of Florida in 2020, representing a potential conflict of interest; she was confirmed, however, by a 56-21 vote.

“As Judge Cannon’s handling of the case has come under intensifying scrutiny, her critics have suggested that she could be in over her head, in the tank for Mr. Trump — or both,” the NYT states.

Mainstream media wasn't worried about bias when judge was anti-Trump

However, the mainstream media didn’t seem to have much problem with the judge on another recent Trump trial, Justice Juan M. Merchan. The New York judge presided over Trump’s criminal trial related to alleged “hush money.” Merchan’s daughter is the president of a business that represents Democrat politicians known as Authentic Campaigns and has connections to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, among others.

“Given Judge Merchan’s daughter’s clientele – and the vast sums of money that these individuals have raised and will continue to raise off of President Trump’s charges – Judge Merchan’s daughter stands to benefit the more legally imperiled President Trump is,” wrote House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik in an ethics complaint against the judge, noting that the conflict easily met the legal conditions requiring recusal.

However, the Times passed this off as just another stalling tactic to help Trump rather than the very real problem it was, writing: “The repeated attempts reflect the former president’s long-running effort to delay all four of his criminal cases past Election Day. Stalling is one of Mr. Trump’s favored legal tactics, and he uses it liberally in Manhattan, as well as in the three other cities where he faces criminal charges,” the publication noted.

Sources for this article include:




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