U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday indicated she intends to continue presiding over the case involving Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Cannon, who was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020, ordered “all attorneys of record and forthcoming attorneys of record” to get expedited security clearances and notify her of compliance by June 20.
Defense lawyers Todd Blanche and Chris Kise have already contacted the Department of Justice about obtaining clearances, sources told CNN and The New York Times. Blanche, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, reportedly previously had clearance.
The order also reflects the highly sensitive nature of documents that are at the heart of the prosecution’s Espionage Act charges against the former president.
Cannon’s assignment to the case has been considered good news for Trump’s legal team.
Her favorable rulings for Trump during the investigation raised eyebrows and prompted calls from Democratic lawmakers for her to recuse herself from overseeing the trial.
Cannon barred DOJ investigators from using the classified documents recovered from last August’s FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate until a special master appointed by her reviewed the files. She claimed Trump faced “reputational harm” of a “decidedly different order of magnitude” than an ordinary person subjected to a similar search.
An appeals court later reversed her decision, saying the “district court abused its discretion.”
“I’m very concerned about her prior rulings and her potential mindset in this case,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said.
Eric Holder, who served as attorney general in the Barack Obama administration, said Cannon lacks the “legal acumen” to handle a case of this importance.
“I don’t have confidence in her abilities to be fair, or to be seen as fair,” Holder said last weekend.
A federal grand jury indicted Trump on 37 charges, including willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements. His aide Walt Nauta was also charged.