Trump-named judge gives Trump another reward, stalling Justice Dept. probe
Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by Trump, has rewarded him by delaying even more the Justice Department probe into his theft of classified documents belonging to the Federal Government. Trump estate in the inset is where he kept the stolen papers. |

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, named to the job by former Republican Oval Office occupant Donald Trump, has given Trump a second reward within three weeks. She’s further stalled the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s criminal heist of secret and sensitive national security documents from the White House to his Mar-A-Lago mansion.

In her 10-page order, issued in the wee hours of September 15, Judge Cannon named retired federal District Judge Raymond Dearie of Brooklyn as “special master” to go through all the 11,000 records FBI agents carted away from Mar-A-Lago a month ago. Both Trump and DOJ had nominated Dearie for the job and the judge agreed.

But in her latest order, reported by AP and the New York Times, Judge Cannon also turned down the department’s request to get access to those documents even while Dearie examines them. And DOJ wanted Dearie to concentrate on documents stamped “top secret” or higher and dealing with national security, rather than sifting through everything, item by item. The judge said “no.”

When he does examine the trove, Judge Cannon reiterated, Dearie has the power to toss all items—documents or anything else—covered by executive privilege or attorney-client relations.

Legal scholars across the political spectrum, even including former Trump Attorney General William Barr, have criticized Judge Cannon’s ruling for Trump’s executive privilege claims as off-base or worse.

The catch, of course, is going through everything further delays DOJ’s probe into how Trump broke national security law, and plays into his common tactic of shutting down investigations of his potential criminality by running out the legal clock.

Barring the Justice Department from going through the documents simultaneously with Dearie plays into Trump’s stall ball, too.

The New York Times reported the Justice Department would probably appeal Judge Cannon’s latest pro-Trump order, which again upholds his bogus claim of executive privilege. Executive privilege law has long held that a current president can shield documents from scrutiny, but a predecessor can’t.

Instead, all documents and records—everything from missile defense records to White House menus—must be turned over to the National Archives. And the FBI investigation at Mar-A-Lago showed Trump didn’t do that. He carted them off, instead.

The document trove may not be “clean,” either. The Associated Press reported on September 16 that a forger in a North Carolina federal prison crafted a fake U.S. Treasury memo and somehow planted it in the Mar-A-Lago documents.

While in the White House, Trump appointed Cannon, then a federal prosecutor in Miami and a member of the right-wing Federalist Society, to a judgeship in federal court for Southern Florida, based in West Palm Beach. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pushed her nomination through fewer than two weeks after Trump lost the November 2020 election to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.