It was earlier this month when U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon gave Donald Trump and his lawyers effectively everything they wanted in the Mar-a-Lago scandal: The Trump-appointed jurist approved a request for a special master and blocked parts of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation.
As we’ve discussed, among legal experts from the left, right and center, a consensus formed quickly: Cannon’s decision was ridiculous. Prominent legal voices used words like “nutty,” “preposterous” and “oblivious” when describing the Labor Day ruling. Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, described the judge’s legal analysis as “terrible” and “awful,” before concluding: “Frankly, any of my first-year law students would have written a better opinion.”
Last week, Cannon suffered another brutal setback when a three-judge panel at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals — including two Trump appointees — undid key elements of the district court’s order.
But if Cannon feels at all chastened by these embarrassments, she has a funny way of showing it. NBC News reported:
A judge appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled Thursday that Trump does not have to submit a sworn statement identifying any evidence he believes the FBI might have planted when federal agents executed a search warrant at his Florida estate last month. The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon effectively overrules a directive from the special master she named to review evidence the FBI seized in the search Aug. 8.
Even the most knee-jerk Trump partisans might find it difficult to defend this one.
The former president made a rather outlandish request for a special master — a move even former Attorney General William Barr described as “a crock of s---.” Cannon granted the request anyway. Team Trump also requested that U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie fill the role, and when the Justice Department agreed, Cannon granted that request, too.
In the process, Cannon gave Dearie discretion to verify the inventory from Mar-a-Lago. To that end, as NBC News’ report added, the special master ordered Trump’s attorneys to submit a “declaration or affidavit” about whether anything on the FBI’s list of items removed from Mar-a-Lago had not been “seized from the premises.”
In other words, the former president has repeatedly insisted that the FBI might’ve “planted” incriminating evidence at his glorified country club, and Dearie asked Trump’s lawyers to bolster these claims with evidence, if such evidence exists.
Yesterday afternoon, Cannon effectively told Team Trump not to worry about responding to the special master’s order.
In case this weren’t quite enough, the Florida judge also pushed back the deadline for Dearie’s review, which was also in line with Team Trump’s wishes, since the Republican wants to delay the process as much as possible.
The curious thing about Cannon is that she seems wholly indifferent to her professional reputation. It’s as if she noticed her credibility was on fire and thought it’d be a good idea to reach for lighter fluid.
To that end, Andrew Weissmann, a longtime Justice Department veteran and an MSNBC legal analyst, yesterday described the Trump-appointed jurist as “a disgrace,” while George Conway, a prominent attorney with a long history of work in Republican circles, called Cannon “an embarrassment to the federal judiciary.”