Who is Judge Aileen Cannon, who ruled for Trump in the search for Mar-a-Lago?


Aileen M. Cannon was not yet 40 years when the federal prosecutor won decisive bipartisan support in a The U.S. Senate has bitterly split to claim his seat on the South Florida District Court, in what would be President Donald Trump’s latest push to fill the federal bench with young conservative lawyers before leaving the White House.

His profile is gone this week after his intervention in the Justice Department investigation of Trump possible mishandling of classified information and has agreed to grant his request for an independent review of the material which FBI agents seized. Trump has requested the appointment of what is called a special master to assess whether the government has taken anything from his Florida residence that could be protected by attorney-client privilege or his status as a former president.

cannon controversial decision, which she called necessary to “at least ensure the appearance of fairness and integrity in the extraordinary circumstances,” is temporarily barring investigators from using documents removed last month from her Mar-a- The girlfriend. The order was criticized by legal experts for appearing to give Trump special treatment and for halting the investigation before anyone was charged with a crime. On Thursday, the government announced it would appeal Cannon’s decision.

The Post’s Perry Stein explains how a special master will identify whether documents seized by the FBI are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege. (Video: The Washington Post)

With less than two years on the bench, she does not have a complete file to review. The Trump dispute has brought it to light while presenting untested questions about the extent to which assertions of executive privilege — typically invoked by sitting presidents to protect sensitive communications from disclosure — can be applied to former occupants of the White House in conflict with their successors.

Cannon did not respond to a request for comment.

Judge’s special master orders Trump powers test after White House

Former Sen. Russ Feingold — who heads the liberal American Constitution Society, which closely tracks judicial appointments — said Trump and his Republican allies in the Senate sought out judicial candidates like Cannon, showing an “overwhelming preference” for people often lacking experience “previously deemed necessary to sit on the bench”.

“We are now seeing the impact of this, with an alarming disregard for the rule of law by some,” he said in a statement.

Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican whose office asked Cannon to apply for the position in 2019, rejected any suggestion that his decision in the classified documents case was politically motivated and noted the support Cannon received from Senate Democrats. Twelve voted in favor of his confirmation.

“Judge Cannon is a great judge whom I am very proud to have enthusiastically supported,” Rubio said in a statement. “The attacks on her are just the latest example of hypocrisy from leftists and their ombudsmen who think the only time it’s okay to attack a judge is if that judge is speaking out against what they want. .”

Why did Trump have these files at Mar-a-Lago? La Poste has answered your questions.

Cannon’s confirmation hearing took place six months after the coronavirus pandemic began, in July 2020, and she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee via Zoom. She had the support of the Cuban-American Bar Association, which praised her “temperament and academic credentials” and highlighted her “legal spirit and behavior”. By choosing Cannon, the group told lawmakers, “you improve diversity on the bench and help nominate a great candidate for the job.”

In supplementary questions, Democrats pressed Cannon about his case as a prosecutor, her judicial philosophy and her membership in the Federalist Society, the conservative organization that has played a major role in advising Trump on his judicial choices. In response to Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.), Cannon said she considers herself an “originalist” and a “textualist,” referring to methods of legal interpretation that look to the general understanding of the Constitution at the time it was written. , an approach most often associated with the conservative end of the Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia.

Cannon quoted Elena Kagan, the liberal judge who joked during her confirmation hearing, “We’re all originalists.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) asked Cannon specifically if she had any discussions during the nomination process about “loyalty to President Trump.”

“No,” Cannon replied in writing.

She was one of 14 nominees confirmed after the November 2020 election, amid the tumultuous aftermath of Trump’s defeat, a nomination that will now be a notable part of her legacy. In four years in the White House, he installed more than 200 federal justices, including three Supreme Court justices.

Until last week, one of Cannon’s most high-profile cases in 20 months on the bench involved convict a man who pleaded guilty to uttering death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.).

Cannon, now 41, was born in Colombia to a Cuban immigrant mother and raised in Miami. She spoke at her confirmation hearing about the lasting influence of her mother, who at age 7 “had to flee Castro’s repressive regime in search of freedom and safety”.

“Thank you for teaching me the blessings of this country and the importance of safety and the rule of law for generations to come,” Cannon said.

As an undergraduate at Duke University, she worked one summer for the Spanish-language newspaper Nuevo Herald, writing on a variety of topics including flamenco and prenatal yoga. While at the University of Michigan Law School, she joined the Federalist Society because, as she explained in response to Senate questions, she enjoyed the “diversity of legal viewpoints” and discussion of the “limited role of the judiciary to say what the law is”. — not to lay down the law.

Prior to joining the bench, Cannon spent much of her career in the courtroom as a litigator. She was a law clerk for Appeals Court Judge Steven M. Colloton, who was on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court picksand partner for three years in DC at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

In 2013, as the newest prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida, Cannon handled major crimes, including drug, gun, and immigration cases. Shortly after joining the Appeals Division, Cannon was tasked with defending the government’s conviction in a complex, large-scale fraud case. She was confronted by an experienced appellate attorney and appeared before a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Richard Klugh, the veteran lawyer on the other side, was impressed.

“She was up against an old man with an extremely complicated case in a big case, but she seemed to handle it with ease,” Klugh said in an interview. “She is fast, talented and brilliant. There is no way around this. She is very effective.

Cannon prevailed, arguing the conviction of a Florida lawyer in connection with the life insurance scheme which has affected thousands of investors.

Howard Srebnick, a Miami attorney who attended the same high school as the judge, was also on the opposite side during Cannon’s tenure as prosecutor and now has a case pending before her.

In court, Cannon is polite and process-oriented, he said, asking lots of questions while ensuring litigants can fully express their views. Srebnick submitted a letter to the Senate in support of Cannon’s nomination, signed by more than a dozen private Ransom Everglades High School alumni who are also attorneys.

She has “strength of character,” the letter says, describing Cannon as “pleasant and trustworthy, a genuinely caring person who treats others as he would like to be treated himself.”

In June, Cannon ruled against Srebnick’s client, upholding the government’s decision to freeze the defendant’s bank account in a Medicare fraud case.

“She clearly spent considerable time and thought deciding the question presented,” Srebnick said. “We just don’t agree.”

Srebnick, however, said he agreed with Cannon’s decision to appoint a special counsel in the Trump case, even though the Justice Department has claimed to have already set aside potentially privileged files.

“She is absolutely correct that a special master, not a government-run screening team, should handle these materials,” Srebnick said. “No one from the government should review a client’s communications with an attorney.”

Cannon’s decision may not be the final word. The Justice Department on Thursday asked the judge to reconsider and temporarily suspend part of her order before formally asking the appeals court to intervene.

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.


Comments are closed.