Jack Smith should file to get her removed from the case.
Is Judge Cannon preparing to kneecap Trump’s Florida documents case?
Spoiler alert: Yes.
AUG 30, 2023
Last year, Judge Aileen Cannon tried valiantly to derail the Justice Department’s investigation of Donald Trump’s retention of classified documents at his Florida country club. The unanimous conclusion among court watchers was that Judge Cannon, who was confirmed after Trump had already lost the 2020 election, put both thumbs and all eight fingers on the scale for the man who nominated her to the federal bench. She was only stopped by the intervention of the 11th Circuit, which reversed her in humiliating fashion.
And so liberals looked on in horror as Special Counsel Jack Smith’s 42-count indictment arising out of that same documents investigation landed on Judge Cannon’s docket in the Southern District of Florida. It seemed inevitable that the jurist would seek to undermine the prosecution of Trump and two of his employees, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, for their scheme to keep the FBI from discovering and reclaiming documents belonging to the American people.
A series of little-noticed filings in past two weeks demonstrates that Judge Cannon has been working behind the scenes to do exactly that, providing a playbook for Trump’s legal team to accuse Smith’s office of misconduct and potentially paving the way to exclude critical evidence and witnesses in the case.
Cannon takes aim at Jack Smith
The issue broke through the surface on August 2 when the government filed a motion for a hearing on potential attorney conflicts, which is known in the 11th Circuit as Garcia hearing. The purpose of this hearing is for the court to determine if the alleged conflict is waivable (some are not), and if so, whether the client has knowingly and voluntarily waived it. This is primarily to protect the client’s interest, and secondarily to protect the court itself so that a judgment can’t be reversed on appeal based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Here prosecutors allege that Walt Nauta’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward Jr., “has represented at least seven other individuals who have been questioned in connection with the investigation.” This is hardly surprising, since Trump’s Save America PAC pays a handful of lawyers, including Woodward and John Irving, to represent various MAGAworld figures. According to the most recent filings, the PAC dispensed $21 million in legal fees during the first half of 2023 alone.
Judges have an affirmative obligation to ensure that parties appearing before them are aware of any potential conflicts their lawyers may have — that is the whole purpose of a Garcia hearing. And in their motion, prosecutors strongly hinted but did not explicitly state that Taveras only felt free to implicate Trump when he got a lawyer who wasn’t being paid by Trump’s Save America PAC, as Woodward is. But instead of scheduling the Garcia hearing, Judge Cannon ordered Nauta to respond to the Garcia motion by addressing “the legal propriety of using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the [indictments] in this district.”
In plain English, she suggested that Nauta should argue that the government was contravening her authority by using a grand jury in DC to investigate crimes which took place in Florida. She also refused to accept two pieces of sealed evidence submitted by prosecutors which had been visible to the judge and the parties but not the public.
Last week, prosecutors came out with a blistering response to Woodward’s claims. But for the purpose of understanding Judge Cannon’s exercise of profound bad faith, these are the two most important sentences in the document:
On June 27, 2023, consistent with its responsibility to promptly notify courts of potential conflicts, and given the prospective charges [Taveras] faced in the District of Columbia, the Government filed a motion for a conflicts hearing with the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for District of Columbia (Boasberg, C.J.), who presides over grand jury matters in that district. The Government notified [Cannon’s] Court on the same day, by sealed notice, of the filing in the District of Columbia.
It was fundamentally dishonest of Judge Cannon to imply that prosecutors did something underhanded here, when they told her exactly what they were doing two whole months ago. They were investigating Taveras’s perjurious testimony to the grand jury in DC. And the only appropriate venue to investigate that crime was in DC where it occurred, as Woodward and Cannon have both known all along.
Read the entire piece.
She’s an unqualified hack.
Jack Smith needs to call for her removal from this case.