On Wednesday, April 10, 2024, Salon reported that legal experts argued Judge Aileen Cannon may have reversed her previous decision in the Donald Trump classified documents case to avoid potential removal from the case.

Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee overseeing the ongoing investigation into Trump’s retention of classified materials at Mar-a-Lago after leaving office, had ruled in February that documents identifying potential witnesses in the case should be publicly disclosed. However, last week, she reversed this decision and agreed with Special Counsel Jack Smith that witness identities should remain sealed for now due to the early stage of discovery.

Some experts said this dramatic reversal from Cannon was likely an attempt to head off a potential appeal by Smith that could have resulted in her removal from the highly publicized case. As a former federal prosecutor herself, Cannon would be aware of the stringent standards required for a judge’s removal. By changing her stance, Cannon may have given Smith less clear-cut grounds for an appeal arguing she showed incompetence or lack of impartiality.

However, while Cannon agreed to keep witness names private for now, she denied other aspects of Smith’s request to fully seal their statements. This has led some to argue she took a minimal step back just enough to avoid removal without fully acceding to the special counsel. Others saw her decision as mere stalling until the last possible moment before change was unavoidable.

Regardless of the reasoning, the reversal marked an about-face for Cannon after her controversial February decision suggested “no substantiation” of concerns around witness intimidation despite Trump’s history of lashing out at those who cross him. One witness had already identified himself publicly, noting Americans deserved the full facts.

With her latest ruling, Cannon appears for now to have dodged what experts called her “certain appeal” by aligning herself with legal precedent. But skepticism remains over whether the judge is truly impartial or still attempting to delay key decisions in Trump’s favor as his hand-picked appointee presiding over the high-stakes investigation. Either way, the spotlight on Judge Cannon’s conduct in such a consequential case will likely remain bright as it continues.

 

 

Source: Salon