The potential for recusal of U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon looms as former President Donald Trump’s legal team seeks access to special counsel Jack Smith’s filings on the removal of classified materials from shareable discovery. Legal analysts suggest serious consequences for ongoing proceedings if the judge grants this request, as reported by Newsweek on December 7.
In a motion filed on Wednesday, Trump’s legal team pressed for access to submissions under Section 3 of the Classified Information Procedures Act by Smith’s office. The motion argued that, given Trump and his legal counsel’s security clearances, there is no justification for ex parte proceedings, where one party benefits without the knowledge or participation of another.
Trump faces multiple felony charges, including illegal retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. The trial is slated for May 20, 2024, with potential delays.
The special counsel’s office, overseen by the Department of Justice (DOJ), refrained from commenting on the motion, pledging a response in court at the appropriate time.
Legal experts anticipate an appeal from the DOJ if access is granted. Former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance warned on social media that granting access might prompt Smith to seek Judge Cannon’s removal from the case. Vance raised questions about the potential grounds for appeal and the subsequent request for recusal, highlighting the uncertainty surrounding the duration of a ruling.
This development adds complexity to the case, given Judge Cannon’s past decisions that drew scrutiny. She previously granted Trump’s request for a special master to review classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, a decision later overturned by a unanimous three-judge appeals panel.
Amid Trump’s multiple criminal cases, including charges related to attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, legal experts stress the potential impact of Judge Cannon’s decisions on the trajectory of these high-profile trials.