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Who is Aileen Cannon, the judge assigned in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago case? | Donald Trump

Who is Aileen Cannon, the judge assigned in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago case? | Donald Trump

Aileen Cannon, the Florida district judge assigned to oversee Donald Trump’s classified documents case, initially at least, was appointed to the federal bench by the former president three years ago, and gave him a favorable ruling at an earlier hearing last year.

But Cannon was later rebuked by an appeals court panel for granting Trump’s request for an independent special master to review the documents. That action slowed the justice department’s investigation and prompted questions over her impartiality.

On Thursday, Cannon’s name was listed on the summons sent to Trump’s lawyers announcing his indictment, indicating she will be in charge of the timing and progression of hearings.

There is no certainty she will remain on the case. And next Tuesday’s first hearing in Miami is expected to be held in front of magistrate judge Bruce Reinhart, who signed the original warrant authorizing an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida home.

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But while she is the assigned jurist, Cannon, 42, will have broad authority to control almost every aspect, including which evidence is admissible, the ability to slow down or speed up proceedings, and even the legal viability of the justice department’s case.

Analysts will look for clues in Cannon’s handling of the special master episode, which drew criticism from many quarters, including Trump’s former attorney general William Barr.

In calling the law “pretty clear”, Barr said Cannon’s ruling to accede to the request from Trump’s lawyers was “deeply flawed” because it removed the ability of FBI and justice department investigators to review the documents in question, at least until the 11th circuit court of appeals struck down her decision in December.

Cannon, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, had relatively little experience as a lawyer when nominated by Trump and confirmed in November 2020 by the Senate, which was then controlled by Republicans.

Born in Cali, Colombia, in 1981, Cannon grew up in Miami and attended a private school in the city. She graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2007.

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Her appointment to the federal bench came only 12 years after she was first admitted to practice law, the minimum experience the American Bar Association requires nominees should have.

Cannon was a clerk for an appellate judge in Iowa after graduating law school, and was then an associate at the Gibson Dunn law firm in Washington DC.

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Between 2013 and her nomination by Trump, she was federal prosecutor in Fort Pierce, Florida. The New York Times spoke last year to a defense lawyer in West Palm Beach who called her “thorough, meticulous and often willing to rule against the government”.

Valentin Rodriguez Jr told the newspaper: “The general feeling that I’ve gotten from her is, ‘I don’t buy everything the government has to tell me.’

“You can’t expect that if you and the government have some sort of agreement, over sentencing or a plea, that that’s necessarily going to convince [her]. In that sense, you could call her something of a freethinker.”

Cannon, who is married with two children, is a registered Republican, according to the Times, and donated $100 to Ron DeSantis’s political campaign in 2018 when he was elected to his first term as governor of Florida.

Reuters contributed reporting

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Richard Luscombe in Miami and agencies

Published: 2023-06-10 10:00:20

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