Trump-appointed judge Aileen Cannon to oversee documents case

Washington— A South Florida federal district judge appointed by former President Donald Trump appears to have been tasked with overseeing his criminal case involving his handling of sensitive government documents for now, CBS News confirmed.

The summons sent Thursday to Trump informing him of the indictment lists U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, whose chambers are in Fort Pierce, Florida, as the judge assigned to preside over at least the initial proceedings, a source familiar with the matter told CBS News. Trump is scheduled to appear in Federal District Court in Miami on June 13 for his arraignment.

It’s unclear whether Cannon will remain the presiding judge for the later stages of the case. ABC News was first to report its mission.

Appointed to the federal bench by Trump in 2020, Cannon was embroiled in the stages of the legal wrangle last year that stemmed from the FBI’s execution of a court-authorized search warrant at Trump’s residence in South Florida, Mar-a-Lago. During this search, federal investigators seized 33 boxes of material from the property, 13 of which contained approximately 100 documents bearing classification marks.

Asset filed a complaint in federal court seeking the appointment of a special master, or independent third party, to review records recovered by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, and Cannon presided over the dispute.

The judge granted Trump’s request for a special master’s degree and ordered the Department of Justice to temporarily cease using the seized documents for its investigation pending the completion of the special master’s review.

But his decision was widely criticized by legal experts and on appeal by the Justice Department, reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in a unanimous decision. The three-judge panel that reviewed Cannon’s decision included two Trump appointees, Justices Britt Grant and Andrew Beshear.

In an earlier phase of the fight for the special master, during which federal prosecutors only requested access to the batch of 103 documents marked classified, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Trump for the special master to have access to sensitive files.

Trump was indicted Thursday on charges of withholding national defense information, conspiracy and obstruction.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing, saying he was unfairly targeted by the Biden administration in an effort to thwart his bid for the White House in 2024. He announced changes to his legal team on Friday and will now be represented by Todd Blanche, a former federal prosecutor. Lawyers Jim Trusty and John Rowley said in a joint statement that they had resigned.

“It has been an honor to have spent the last year defending him, and we know he will be rewarded in his battle against the Biden administration’s partisan weaponization of the American justice system,” Trusty and Rowley said. “Now that the case has been filed in Miami, it’s a logical time for us to step aside and let the others see things through.”

Trusty, Rowley and Lindsey Halligan, also members of Trump’s legal team, met officials from the Ministry of Justice Monday to discuss the investigation into the former president. Halligan told CBS News that she still represents Trump.

Arden Farhi contributed to this report

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