The timing of Judge Aileen Cannon‘s Wednesday closed-door meeting with special counsel Jack Smith raises a red flag in Donald Trump’s Florida classified documents case, signaling the Trump’s appointee’s potential bias toward the former president, ex-federal prosecutor Joyce Vance argues. The meeting — which Trump and his legal team were prohibited from attending — to discuss which classified materials will be shared with the defense is a standard procedure for such cases. But it being “oddly scheduled” indicates Cannon is delaying the case’s pretrial procedures, Vance said.
“One of the biggest objections to Judge Cannon’s handling of the case has been the exceptional amount of delay she has indulged Trump with in what should have been a fairly straightforward case,” the former U.S. attorney wrote in the Monday edition of her Substack newsletter, pointing to the case’s Classified Information Procedures Act proceedings. Section 4 of the act allows Smith to argue for the exclusion of classified information from the case or its replacement with unclassified summaries, but requires the special counsel to first get permission from Cannon. “I anticipated a CIPA ruling ahead of the holidays. … But here we are at the end of January, with the hearing itself still weeks away,” Vance writes.
Despite Smith and Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, both filing a motion and response under section 4 of CIPA on Dec. 6, Cannon scheduled the subsequent hearings for approximately eight weeks later on Feb. 15 and 16. “She offered no reason for allowing that amount of time to elapse,” Vance said. “Instead of proceeding promptly to get to the point where she could rule on the Section 4 motions, she has permitted the matter to drag on,” Vance went on, adding: “That delay has been particularly troubling when it comes to CIPA.”