MSNBC analysts and hosts fretted about United States District Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling against special counsel Jack Smith Monday, with some hoping for her removal from overseeing the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump.
Cannon ordered Smith to justify the use of a grand jury in Washington, D.C. to investigate potential crimes related to Trump’s alleged retention of classified material at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida estate owned by the former president. Cannon also rejected Smith’s effort to keep two motions under seal and ordered that they be made public.
“This may tee up the issue of her fitness on this case,” MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance posted on Twitter following the news of Cannon’s ruling.
“This has the feel of Judge Cannon acting as an advocate for the defense,” MSNBC contributor Glenn Kirschner tweeted. “Guess no one can accuse her of learning her lesson from the appellate court’s prior ruling that she abused her discretion & acted lawlessly to the extreme benefit of Trump. More appellate smackdowns coming?”
Cannon previously ordered the appointment of a “special master” to review documents seized during the Aug. 8, 2022, raid on Mar-a-Lago, but the ruling was later overturned on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
“Judge Cannon clearly shows her ignorance (bias? both?); the obstruction crimes that were investigated are charges that could have been brought in FLA or in DC and thus could be investigated in either district,” former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissman, who hosts MSNBC’s “Prosecuting Donald Trump” podcast, posted. “And there was conduct that is alleged to have occurred outside [Florida].”
“If the DOJ filed under seal certain documents, and Judge Cannon just disclosed the existence of an otherwise confidential grand jury proceeding, we might be at the motion for recusal stage for the DOJ…,” host Katie Phang tweeted.
Vance continued her criticism during a Monday afternoon appearance on the network.
“It’s very troubling. The government tried to file a motion under seal that includes what they indicated was supplemental evidence, and what the judge did in the order that she issued on the protective order is she said, ‘sorry, you can’t file under seal,’ and she turned around and directed one of the defendants … to respond to a very specific issue, ‘how do you feel about the government using a grand jury that’s not here in Florida to continue to gather evidence against you,’” Vance told host Katy Tur. “It’s very suggestive that she believes the government is engaged in wrongdoing.”
“The government can continue to use grand juries to investigate other crimes and other defendants, even after an indictment has been issued, so there’s no reason to believe that any of the conduct that’s going on here is wrong,” Vance continued. “What’s really shocking here is seeing a federal judge refuse to give the government permission to file materials related to grand jury proceedings under seal.”
“If she persists in refusing to let them make their case, which they can only make under seal, if it involves grand jury information, then they likely will have to consider some form of action with the 11th Circuit, whether that’s an appeal or petition,” Vance added.
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