US District Judge Aileen Cannon announced Thursday that she intends to continue presiding over the case involving Donald Trump’s alleged misappropriation of classified documents.
Cannon, who was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020, directed “all attorneys-in-law and prospective attorneys-in-law” to obtain expedited security clearances and notify them of compliance by June 20.
Defense attorneys Todd Blanche and Chris Kise have already contacted the Justice Department for permits and sources said CNN and the New York Times. Blanche, a former Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York, had reportedly received prior clearance.
The order also reflects the highly sensitive nature of the documents, which are at the heart of prosecutors’ Espionage Law allegations against the former president.
Cannon’s assignment to the case is considered good news for Trump’s legal team.
Her favorable verdicts on Trump during the investigation caused a stir, leading to demands from Democratic lawmakers that she step down from overseeing the trial.
Cannon barred Justice Department investigators from using the classified documents recovered in the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home last August until a special agent she appointed reviewed the files. She claimed that Trump suffered “reputational damage” on a “very different scale” than a normal person subjected to a similar search.
An appeals court later overturned her decision, saying the district court abused its discretionary powers.
“I am very concerned about their previous rulings and their possible dismissal in this case,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Eric Holder, who served as attorney general in Barack Obama’s administration, said Cannon lacked the “legal acumen” to handle a case of this importance.
“I have no faith in their ability to be fair or be considered fair,” Holder said last weekend.
A federal grand jury has indicted Trump on 37 counts, including willful withholding of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements. His aide Walt Nauta was also charged.