Trump-appointed judge who granted his special master request 'abused' her 'discretion': federal panel
U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Donald Trump appointee, has drawn a great deal of criticism from Trump’s detractors for granting his request for a special master in the federal case involving government documents he was storing at his Mar-a-Lago resort/home in Palm Beach, Florida. And on Wednesday night, September 21, some of the criticism of Cannon’s decision came from a three-judge panel that included two other Trump appointees.
According to the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake, “A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit was rather unsparing in unanimously granting the Justice Department a reprieve from Cannon’s order barring them from reviewing documents with classified markings seized from Mar-a-Lago. The stay is temporary, but the reasoning is firm. They repeatedly rejected not just the Trump legal team’s lack of arguments, but also, Cannon’s acceptance of them. Indeed, they suggested it was inexplicable that Cannon ruled for Trump even by her own logic.”
When FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, August 8, the items that they were looking for, according to the Washington Post, included classified documents that never should have left Washington, D.C. — among them, classified documents pertaining to nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton, in response to the case, has noted that when she was secretary of state, such documents were so closely guarded that she was allowed to look at them in the presence of a military officer but not keep them or copy them. Moving classified government documents to private property like Mar-a-Lago, Clinton has emphasized, is a serious violation of security protocols.
The three-judge panel, according to Blake, accused Cannon of abusing her “discretion.”
The judges wrote, “Here, the district court concluded that (Trump) did not show that the United States acted in callous disregard of his constitutional rights. No party contests the district court’s finding in this regard. The absence of this ‘indispensab(le)’ factor.… is reason enough to conclude that the district court abused its discretion in exercising equitable jurisdiction here.”
Cannon ruled that Trump may have had an interest in some of the documents that FBI agents seized at Mar-a-Lago, but the three-judge panel disagreed.
The judges wrote, “But none of those concerns apply to the roughly one-hundred classified documents at issue here…. And the district court made no mention in its analysis of this factor as to why or how Plaintiff might have an individual interest in or need for the classified documents.”
The three judges also wrote, “Plaintiff has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents. Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents. And even if he had, that, in and of itself, would not explain why Plaintiff has an individual interest in the classified documents.”
The judges also took issue with Trump’s claim that the documents he was storing at Mar-a-Lago were “declassified” before he moved them to Mar-a-Lago.
“Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President,” the three judges wrote. “But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents.”
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