Friday, May 17, 2024

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Judge Cannon Denies Trump’s Effort to Exploit Presidential Records Act, but Her Loyalty to the Ex-president Shines Through

Cannon's Proposed Jury Instructions Alarm Prosecutors, Exposing Her Efforts to Shield Trump from Consequences.

trump classified documents
Image of classified documents carelessly stored in Mar-a-Lago bathroom, which was part of the indictment against Donald Trump.

In her latest ruling on Thursday, Judge Cannon begrudgingly rejected Trump’s absurd bid to have the entire case dismissed on the ridiculous argument that the documents he stole could be considered “personal materials” under the Presidential Records Act. This minor concession to legal rationale, however, was overshadowed by her continued refusal to decisively reject Trump’s fictitious claims of having a unilateral authority to declassify documents at will.

Trump’s lawyers put forth the ludicrous claim that the Presidential Records Act shielded him from prosecution under the Espionage Act for mishandling classified documents he improperly took to Mar-a-Lago. Cannon rightly rejected this argument, stating the PRA does not provide grounds to dismiss the charges against Trump related to his alleged mishandling of sensitive materials and obstructing efforts to recover them.

The proceedings in the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump have been marred by a deeply concerning pattern of bias and incompetence displayed by the presiding Judge Cannon. Appointed by Trump himself in 2020, her tenure overseeing this high-profile prosecution has been a masterclass in judicial activism thinly veiled by a fake impartiality.

Judge Aileen Cannon’s proposed jury instructions, which sparked justified outrage from special counsel Jack Smith, contemplated the unconscionable scenario of either requiring jurors to examine highly sensitive classified materials or deferring entirely to Trump’s self-serving assertions about his declassification powers. As seasoned legal analysts have noted, such instructions would effectively nullify the very purpose of the trial by preemptively exculpating the defendant.

In her defense of this legally dubious path, Cannon disingenuously framed her proposal as a mere “attempt to better understand the parties’ competing positions.” This laughable justification makes it obvious that she is actively exploring avenues to undermine the prosecution’s case before it has even begun.

Cannon’s obstructionist tactics extend well beyond her questionable proposed jury instructions. Despite urgent calls from prosecutors to set a trial schedule months ago, she has inexplicably failed to do so, drawing accusations of deliberately stalling to push proceedings past the 2024 election cycle. Her snail like pace in resolving key pretrial motions and objections has become a transparent effort to run down the clock, providing Trump with the very delay he has repeatedly demanded.

Judge Cannon’s Obvious Bias

Judge Cannon

The extent of Cannon’s bias is so egregious that even members of Trump’s own legal team have privately expressed concerns about her overtly preferential treatments. Her rulings have consistently favored the former president, from granting his request for a special master to review seized materials—a decision swiftly overturned on appeal—to her refusal to hold him in contempt for failing to comply with a grand jury subpoena.

Ty Cobb, a former White House lawyer under Trump, did not mince words in a recent CNN appearance, stating unequivocally, “I think the evidence of her bias is pretty palpable at this stage of the game.” 

Cobb, a veteran of the Russia investigation, astutely recognized that Cannon’s missteps can no longer be attributed to mere inexperience or incompetence. Her actions, he asserted, have become so “grossly” compromised that they unmistakably create a perception of partiality and a concerted “attempt to put her thumb on the scale” in Trump’s favor.

Trump’s Delay Tactics

The implications of Cannon’s conduct extend far beyond the immediate confines of this case. Her complicity in Trump’s delay tactics validates the former president’s longstanding disregard for institutional norms and processes. His audacious defense that he was simply “too busy” to return classified documents to the federal government exemplifies the cavalier attitude toward matters of national security that precipitated this crisis in the first place. 

Trump’s own recorded statements where he brags about the classified nature of the documents he stole undermine any pretense of innocence and nullifies his “personal records” defense. His cavalier confessions gut the credibility of his legal arguments and makes it obvious that he has little concern for the national security of the United States.

Yet, Cannon appears all too willing to entertain these arguments, lending undue credence to Trump’s perverse belief that the rules simply do not apply to him. In doing so, she emboldens his disdain for accountability and fortifies the insidious narrative that democratic institutions are mere inconveniences to be circumvented or exploited for personal gain.

As legal scholars have reiterated, Cannon’s removal from this case is not merely warranted, but imperative to preserve the integrity of the judicial process. Her conduct has irrevocably tarnished any semblance of impartiality, rendering her continued stewardship of these proceedings an untenable affront to the principles of due process and equal protection under the law.

Judge Aileen Cannon’s unwavering allegiance to Trump’s interests, whether born of ideological alignment or loyalty to the man who appointed her, has transformed her courtroom into a theater of the absurd, where legal precedent is ignored in favor of partisanship. The American people deserve better—they deserve a judicial system that operates not on the whims of political expediency but on the bedrock of blind justice, where no individual, regardless of stature, is exempt from accountability under the law.