A federal judge appointed by Donald Trump and confirmed after he lost the 2020 presidential election on Monday granted the former president his request for a “special master,” an independent third party, to review the more than 11,000 documents stolen from the White House and seized by federal agents at Mar-a-Lago on August 8.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a member of the far-right Federalist Society since 2005, not only granted Trump his request, but ordered the U.S. Dept.of Justice to cease, at least for now, its criminal investigation into Trump and the stolen documents, which include more than 100 classified, highly classified, and top secret documents.
Last week former federal prosecutor Shan Wu said Judge Cannon “has no business trying to oversee a federal criminal investigation.”
“Special masters are used in federal courts to assist judges in matters involving some ‘exceptional condition,’ or ‘complex accounting or computation of damages,’ or where a ‘district judge or magistrate judge of the district’ is not available to address the issue,” he explained at The Daily Beast.
On Monday he wrote: “DOJ must continue to fight this attack on the integrity of the criminal justice system. A really gutsy move by AG Garland & DOJ would be to appeal while defying her attempt to derail a criminal investigation.”
Glenn Kirschner, the well-known former federal prosecutor of 30 years and an MSNBC legal analyst last week blasted Cannon as “dead wrong” for announcing she was considering the appointment of a special master before even hearing DOJ’s side.
“In 30 years of prosecuting cases, I never saw a judge make up her mind on an issue BEFORE the other party had an opportunity to respond to the request. This is dead wrong.”
He agrees DOJ should appeal, and explains the gravity of Judge Cannon’s decision today.
“So this means DOJ must withdraw any witness subpoenas they issued base on the documents Trump stole and unlawfully concealed. It also means,” he adds, “DOJ must stop any forensic testing (fingerprints/DNA) that may be underway regarding the stolen documents. I hope the DOJ chooses to appeal this decision rather than just let it lie.”
Former Harvard Law professor of law Laurence Tribe slammed Judge Cannon:
“According to Judge Cannon, the robber can get a special master — but only if he had been the president before robbing the bank, because ‘the investigation and treatment of a former president is of unique interest to the general public.’ I.e., a former president is above the law.”
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti adds that “Judge Cannon made sense out of Trump’s bizarre, convoluted motion and gave him more than he was entitled to.”
“The motion didn’t really help the defense much, but by granting a temporary injunction, she delays the investigation,” he says, which does help Trump.
“She bent over backwards to grant him this review based on ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and the need for the appearance of fairness,” he says.