Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who took the extraordinary step of appointing a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case, may initially oversee the case, according to reporting from multiple outlets.
Cannon’s name appeared on the summons for Donald Trump’s Tuesday appearance, as did Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the warrant to search the former president’s Florida home, ABC News first reported Friday.
Rulings from Cannon substantially slowed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Trump, in one instance barring prosecutors from using the classified documents they seized from the home.
She later appointed a special master in the case tasked with assessing whether documents aligned with Trump’s claims that documents might be covered by executive privilege — an argument the special master himself later expressed skepticism over.
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Cannon was twice overturned by a higher court, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which both greenlit the DOJ’s use of the documents and disbanded the special master process.
“It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president — but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation,” the appeals court determined.
A message left with Cannon’s chambers was not immediately returned.
Joyce Vance, an attorney who helped draft a model prosecution memo in the case, warned about getting “too spun up” about Cannon’s inclusion, noting the 11th Circuit can order a reassessment, “where a judge leans so heavily for a defendant they call their objectivity in the eyes of the public into question.”
“This is persuasive authority that Judge Cannon must step aside if the case falls to her as a permanent assignment. Her court & certainly the 11th won’t tolerate the damage it would do to their credibility if she failed to voluntarily recuse,” Vance wrote on Twitter.
“It is not clear Cannon is permanently assigned to the case. If she is, it’s extremely unlikely it stays with her and as a last resort, DOJ will challenge her participation and win.”