New York Times: 2 federal judges urged Aileen Cannon to step down from Trump case

Two federal judges in south Florida urged District Judge Aileen Cannon to forgo overseeing the criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump when she was first assigned the classified documents case in 2023, according to a report from The New York Times.

The judges, one of whom was the district’s chief judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, suggested that Cannon decline to oversee the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith and allow another judge to govern the case instead, the Times wrote, citing two people briefed on the conversations.

Cannon is still overseeing the case, which has seen a multitude of delays and is not yet scheduled to go to trial.

Altonaga’s chambers declined to comment on the report to CNN. The Times did not identify the second judge who reportedly contacted Cannon.

At the time Cannon was assigned the high-profile criminal case, she had already faced public backlash – and a major reversal by an appeals court – over her handling of the lawsuit Trump brought challenging the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago residence in August 2022, when agents found hundreds of classified documents scattered about the property.

Since then, Cannon has repeatedly raised eyebrows among legal scholars for her approach. Critics of the judge say that she has slowed the pace of the case to a near standstill, making a pre-election trial essentially out of reach.

Attorneys who have practiced in front of Cannon have told CNN that she tends to allow irrelevant legal questions distract from core issues – including a longshot motion from the former president to invalidate Jack Smith’s appointment as special counsel that she’s scheduled to hear extensive arguments on in the coming days.

The attorneys who spoke to CNN also reported a zero-tolerance approach to any technical defects in filings, and a struggle with docket management that allows the type of pretrial disputes that other judges would decide in weeks go unresolved for months.

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