Aileen Cannon Makes A MAL Trial Before Election Day Nearly Impossible

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... George Santos ... Elon Musk
TPM Illustration/United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida/Getty Images
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Hair On Fire Time

With this simple docket entry, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon all but assured that the trial of Donald Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case will not happen until after the 2024 election:

The docket entry is not a clarion call by any means. It’s technical and legalistic. A perfect way to bury the reality of acceding to Trump’s delay strategy. But the consensus among CIPA experts and legal observers is that this is best evidence yet that Cannon is slow-rolling the case, to Trump’s benefit.

What happened? A couple of days ago, Special Counsel Jack Smith asked Cannon to set a key deadline in December for Trump to provide notice of which classified materials he wants to use at trial. Without waiting for Trump to respond, Cannon nixed the idea. Cannon’s docket entry says she won’t even consider setting this and other important deadlines until a hearing on March 1, 2024. That’s not a feasible schedule for a May 2024 trial date.

The only slight caveat I would add here is that it’s conceivable that while the current May 2024 trial date is out the window, something could be scheduled later in 2024, before the election. But that would be very difficult practically with this latest move by Cannon, even if she were competent and well-intentioned, both of which are highly in doubt at this point.

The reactions were scorching:

Harry Litman: “Judge Cannon’s paperless order denying without explanation DOJ’s uber-reasonable request to set a CIPA section 5 hearing comes mighty close to guaranteeing Trump what he wants: a trial post Nov 2024.”

Brandon Van Grack: “Court won’t even consider scheduling a Sec. 5 hearing until March. Clear indication May trial date wont happen. … Refusal to schedule hearing shows the Court is not going to move with urgency.”

Hugo Lowell: “In short: Trump classified docs case is almost certainly not going to trial in May — in fact, we are probably now several months behind that schedule”

Andrew Weissmann: “Judge Cannon’s bias is showing over and over again. Smith has to be weighing whether, when, and how to seek her reversal by the Ct of Appeals and her removal.”

I expect many of you will now expect Smith to follow through as Weissmann suggests above: get Cannon recused and/or appeal her refusal to keep the trial on track. I’m not an expert in CIPA or criminal or appellate procedure, but it sure looks like Cannon has done this in a way that will make appealing it virtually impossible at this stage. In short, we may be stuck with Cannon and these awful, compromised decisions.

Another Trump Gag Order Lifted

An appeals court judge temporarily lifted the gag order imposed on lawyers and parties in the NY fraud trial against Donald Trump and his business empire – and Trump immediately resumed public attacks on the judge’s law clerk. The pause returns things to the status quo while the appeals court considers Trump’s appeal of the gag order.

The Stakes

Dahlia Lithwick: Suppose They Threw a Cage Match Between Fascism and Democracy and Nobody Cared

All George Santos All The Time

So much to dig into in the House Ethics Committee report on Rep. George Santos (R-NY), whose fabulism and alleged bad acts were even more extensive – and hilariously bad – than we previously know.

But before I surrender the floor to the TPMers who have been covering Santos, here are the main takeaways:

  • Santos won’t run again. This surprised me a bit because I was expecting him to hold on to this bargaining chip to work out a possible plea deal with prosecutors, though I suppose his resignation sometime before January 2025 could still be a tradeoff in any kind of deal.
  • Santos may yet be expelled by the House. A dozen or so GOP members who previously opposed expelling Santos flipped on Thursday. The tea-leaf reading suggests expulsion could actually be in play when the House returns in December, despite the bind Republicans are in with their narrow four-seat majority.

Okay, now for the good stuff:

  • TPM’s Where Things Stand: “It’s as if Santos were a planetary convergence of political scandal, a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of grifting, lying, and adopting a perpetually scandalized tone in response to it all.”
  • TPM: Bombshells From Santos Report Include Imaginary Maserati, Spending Sprees On Casinos, ‘Botox’ And OnlyFans
  • TPM: We Talked To George Santos’ ‘Botox’ Doctor And Got Skincare Advice For The Scandal Spotlight

Pelosi Attacker Convicted

A jury deliberated for about eight hours before finding David DePape guilty of attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official in last year’s attack on then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in their San Francisco home.

Professor Charged In Death Of Jewish Protestor In California

A 50-year-old professor at Moorpark College was arrested on a charge of involuntary manslaughter and held on a $1 million bail in the death of a 69-year-old Jewish protestor after a Nov. 5 altercation.

Senate Judiciary Dems Fizzle On SCOTUS Reform

TPM’s Kate Riga: Senate Democrats Punt On Supreme Court Oversight In Favor Of Early Vacation

Great Piece

The WaPo goes deep on the historical and structural biases that have given rural white people wildly disproportionate representation in the U.S. Senate.

2024 Ephemera

  • NYT: Democrats plan to spend big to whittle away Republican supermajorities in the state legislatures of Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
  • WaPo/Monmouth poll of NH GOP primary: Trump 46%, Haley 18%, Christie 11%, Ramaswamy 8%, DeSantis 7%
  • Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-MI) will not seek reelection in 2024.

Hate To See It

Elon Musk’s embrace of anti-Semitism is causing problems for Twitter/X:

  • NYT: X Races to Contain Damage After Elon Musk Endorses Antisemitic Post
  • WaPo: IBM pulls ads from X as Musk amplifies antisemitism

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Notable Replies

  1. I mean, it’s not like he stole highly sensitive top secret documents and won’t give them back.

    What’s the rush ?

  2. Avatar for grack grack says:

    It’s about time. I’ve had it with this frozen panda that Trader Joe’s has been selling.

  3. As Musk endorses antisemitic conspiracy theory, X has been placing ads for Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity next to pro-Nazi content | Media Matters for America

    As X owner Elon Musk continues his descent into white nationalist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, his social media platform has been placing ads for major brands like Apple, Bravo (NBCUniversal), IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity (Comcast) next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. The company’s placements come after CEO Linda Yaccarino claimed that brands are “protected from the risk of being next to” toxic posts on the platform.

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