NYT: 2 judges sought to persuade Cannon to hand off Trump Mar-a-Lago case

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Two different judges urged Judge Aileen Cannon to hand off the Mar-a-Lago documents case against former President Trump when it was assigned to her last year, according to reporting from The New York Times.

The entreaties were made after Cannon’s initial handling of Trump’s challenge to the warrant to search his home, with her appointment of a special master later being rebuked by a higher court that ordered her to reverse it.

According to the Times, both judges suggested Cannon hand off the case after it was randomly assigned to her once prosecutors made the decision to formally charge Trump last June.

Two sources indicated they heard about the discussions from judges directly, though both declined to name one of the jurists.

The unnamed judge suggested it would be better for Cannon to let the case be heard in the Miami courthouse, rather than in her courtroom two hours north in Fort Pierce.

The Miami courthouse already had a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, something the government has since had to build in Fort Pierce.

Chief Judge Cecilia Altonaga, an appointee of former President George W. Bush who oversees jurists of the Southern District of Florida, would also go on to try and persuade Cannon to give up the case, reportedly telling her it would be bad optics for her to keep the case given her handling of Trump’s challenge to the warrant.

The court did not respond to request for comment.

Cannon was quick to appoint a special master in the case, withholding documents from prosecutors until the appointee had a chance to sift through the documents and make recommendations.

That included on whether any of the documents should be withheld under executive privilege, a novel argument.

When the government appealed the matter to the 11th Circuit, the appeals court sided with prosecutors while using harsh language in analyzing Cannon’s choices.

“We cannot discern why [Trump] would have an individual interest in or need for any of the 100 documents with classification marking,” the appeals court wrote.

It added later that “the district court abused its discretion” in making the appointment.

Cannon’s supervision of the case has alarmed legal experts on both sides of the aisle.

She has handled many matters that would typically be left to a magistrate judge, including in her appointment of the special master.

She’s also handled the case at a slow pace, declining to set a trial date until she works through numerous pretrial motions before her. That includes a slated Friday hearing challenging special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment.

Cannon’s indefinite punting of the case came after lawyers for both Trump and the government said they would be willing to go to trial by summer.

She’s also given ample time to matters many judges would likely weigh more speedily, including scheduling hearings for a battery of efforts by Trump to dismiss the case rather than making a determination based on filings.

In one of the few pretrial issues Cannon has decided, she largely sided with prosecutors in a ruling at times critical of Smith’s team and narrowed the case by striking one paragraph from the indictment.

Her slow handling of the case has all but guaranteed he will not face trial before the election, where, if Trump wins, he can direct the Justice Department to drop the charges.

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