A federal judge who already disgraced herself with pro-Trump partisanship just got asked for a huge favor by the indicted ex-president who wants to be put on trial after next year’s election.
Judge Aileen Cannon faces an early test regarding her neutrality and willingness to grant Trump the delay he desperately needs.
Trump’s lawyers filed a midnight motion requesting that Cannon leave the trial date open for some future point after “all necessary litigation” and – by implication, the 2024 election.
They were supposed to propose a schedule.
Instead, they said it was too early to set.
Prosecutor Jack Smith has already filed a request for a mid-December 2023 trial date in an attempt to settle the matter before the Iowa caucuses.
If Judge Cannon sides with the defense, it’ll be a massive favor to the man who appointed her to the bench.
Trump’s best criminal defense is to become president prior to any conviction and then fire everyone at DOJ involved in the case and likely pardon himself.
This motion clears the way for that possibility.
As was easily predictable, Trump’s team dumped as much politics into the matter as possible in their first substantive motion. “This extraordinary case presents a serious challenge to both the fact and perception of our American democracy,” wrote the Trump legal team. “The court now presides over a prosecution advanced by the administration of a sitting president against his chief political rival, himself a leading candidate for the presidency of the United States.” Naturally, they reached a very self-serving conclusion:
“Therefore, a measured consideration and timeline that allows for a careful and complete review of the procedures that led to this indictment and the unprecedented legal issues presented herein best serves the interests of the defendants and the public.”
As if that were not enough, they went on to pompously declare this:
“President Trump is running for president of the United States and is currently the likely Republican Party nominee. This undertaking requires a tremendous amount of time and energy, and that effort will continue until the election on Nov. 5, 2024.”
In July of 2007, Obama trailed Hillary Clinton by over 30 points, and the Obama campaign orchestrated a total overhaul to address the deficit.
To submit a motion that is not only inherently political but wrongly asserts that the case is “advanced by the administration of a sitting president” instead of recognizing the independent prosecutor and echoing Trump’s campaign in presuming he will be the GOP nominee is the definition of aggressive entitlement with little respect for the judge.
They are essentially saying, “We are bigger than you, with bigger issues, and we’ll get back to you when we have time, so do us this favor.” (Tweets below demonstrate this theme).
A strong judge would slap down this pomposity and disrespect with ease.
The public will learn a great deal about whether Jack Smith’s team is running uphill when we receive Judge Cannon’s response.
If Cannon fails to set a trial date and her order mimics some of Trump’s language and arguments, especially the “presumptive nominee,” we can be sure that Cannon will again side with Trump in nearly every ruling, as she has done before.
Additionally, with respect to federal criminal litigation, the espionage act case is one of the cleanest and easiest to litigate. The only “unprecedented” aspect of the case is that the defendant is a former president and currently running.
Neither consideration should impact the actual litigation.
Trump’s lawyers played the victim in noting the extensive discovery they must examine. From the Times report:
The first discovery disclosure, they said, contained more than 833,450 pages of material, including about 122,650 emails and 305,670 other documents. The lawyers said that after subsequent troves of evidence were handed over, they would most likely make more requests to the government for further information.
Except, the defense doesn’t require the attorneys to understand the Iranian battle plans or read each email.
And it is not the government’s fault that Trump kept so many documents.
Trump’s argument boils down to the fact that he’s too busy (He will be campaigning right up through November 2024, an assumption that isn’t assured) and that – because Trump is running for president – the trial should be the election itself, according to the motion:
“There is simply no question any trial of this action during the pendency of a presidential election will impact both the outcome of that election, and, importantly, the ability of the defendants to obtain a fair trial.”
So? It impacts the election.
Of course, it should!
As for the defendant’s ability to get a fair trial?
The election has nothing to do with it.
It is this nation’s great misfortune that perhaps the single most important criminal case ever filed by the government landed in front of Judge Aileen Cannon.
Not only has she proven herself to be hyper-partisan, but she also lacks the 30 years of experience one would wish to have from a federal judge presiding over such a trial.
Smith’s request for a December trial date is extremely aggressive because it acknowledges the politics.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable for a judge to give Trump two to three more months to prepare.
But if Cannon grants Trump the ultimate favor and doesn’t set a trial date, and one hears echoes of Trump’s arguments in her rationale, Smith will have almost no choice but to file a case in another jurisdiction, perhaps New Jersey, for the dissemination of the material.
Smith cannot stand by and watch a judge grant all the delay needed to make the case entirely irrelevant should Trump win the election.
Even Nixon once said, “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.” It follows that the American people need to know whether Trump is a criminal before the presidential election and, preferably, before the GOP convention.
We will soon know a great deal about Judge Cannon and whether or not she is willing to hold Trump accountable.
Twitter exploded with commentary about the favor Trump is begging to get from Cannon:
That's the whole point. Team Trump wants Judge Cannon to signal she is "with" them. This is the test. Her reaction/response will serve as a guide moving forward in terms of how far they'll go to crap on justice. If she's conveying all the guardrails are down, they're golden. https://t.co/U5BoDk2SrY
— Cheri Jacobus (@CheriJacobus) July 11, 2023
NYT has been sloppy with anonymity grants for years, but they didn't even both to explain sources were, "granted anonymity to prevent Judge Cannon and voters from holding Trump accountable under the Espionage Act indictment." https://t.co/tGQ5ki7T50 pic.twitter.com/OVs7idwxZi
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) July 11, 2023
To no one’s surprise, Trump’s lawyers filed a brief late last night in documents case seeking delay in trial date. Judge Cannon has a lot of power here to keep the trial on track. What’s the over/under for a trial before the Nov 2024 election? https://t.co/Qx6s7ElJH4
— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) July 11, 2023
This is a very telling moment for Judge Cannon, and she has an obvious move. One party has submitted a schedule; the other hasn’t. She should just adopt the one schedule that is in front of her. There’s no halfway point to choose, which is part of trumps brazen strategy.
— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) July 11, 2023
NEW: Trump's attorneys just asked Judge Aileen Cannon to delay his classified documents trial until after the 2024 presidential election. That way if he wins, he can start firing people at DOJ and get the charges dropped. Of course, if Judge Cannon really cares about justice, she… pic.twitter.com/g2exiqIAmM
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) July 11, 2023
This report is based on original reporting by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times.
I can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @JasonMiciak
Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.
Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing. Sign up to get all of my posts by email right here: