Former Obama prosecutor highlights possible 'red flag' that could lead to removal of judge in Trump documents case

July 6, 2023
Ben Marquis

The federal judge overseeing the criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump's alleged unlawful retention of government documents was appointed to the bench by Trump himself, and that has the former president's haters furiously calling for her recusal or removal.

Among those is a former federal prosecutor who highlighted a particular "red flag" that she believes could result in the removal of the judge from the case, the Conservative Brief reported.

That particular "red flag" would be any additional delays to the trial start date -- above and beyond the delay already requested by the government -- that might be perceived as beneficial to Trump and his 2024 re-election campaign.

A potential "red flag" for removal of judge

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who served during the Obama administration, recently wrote in her "Civil Discourse" Substack about how former President Trump's attorneys needed to respond this week to the "smart strategic play" by Special Counsel Jack Smith to request the classified documents trial start date be delayed from August 14 to December 11.

She surmised that the issue was a "double-edged sword" for Trump in that if he asks for any additional delays, whether now or later, that government could respond with the "entirely reasonable" demand for a "ruling that he cannot use rallies, campaign events, and primary dates as an excuse for further delay."

The former Democratic prosecutor also noted that, per the special counsel, there is nothing particularly "unusual or complex" about the case -- save for the fact that it is an unprecedented and politically motivated prosecution of a former president and partisan rival -- that would necessitate the granting of any additional delays to the trial.

Vance wrote that "it would be a red flag if the judge gave Trump preferential treatment, in terms of continuing to delay proceedings while campaigning, that other defendants can’t receive."

"There’s no legitimate reason for an extended delay before trial and certainly no reason to delay it until after the 2024 election, more than a year off," she added. "A ruling to that effect from [District Judge Aileen Cannon] would likely provoke renewed concern about her ability to handle the case in a fair and unbiased way. Expect Trump to make the motion, but a decision by the judge to move the trial that far off would be unprecedented."

"Legal experts" demand Cannon's recusal

Yahoo News reported in June on the growing "chorus of legal experts" calling upon Judge Cannon to recuse herself from the Trump documents case that, due to the special counsel's decision to file the federal charges in South Florida, was randomly assigned to her court.

The primary complaint against Judge Cannon is that she already displayed a favorable bias toward the former president who appointed her when she handled the federal lawsuit Trump filed last year to challenge the FBI's August 2022 raid of his Mar-a-Lago residence and seizure of documents and personal items he had stored there.

Cannon had appointed a "special master" at Trump's request to conduct an independent review of all of the seized materials -- but that decision was overturned, and Trump's lawsuit dismissed, by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Special Counsel can request recusal or ask 11th Circuit for removal

The Yahoo News report noted that, per federal guidelines, a judge is supposed to recuse themself from a case if their impartiality on the matter "might reasonably be questioned" -- and that has certainly been argued in this instance by those who want to see the former president tried and convicted and sentenced to prison.

Judge Cannon has not voluntarily recused herself from the Trump documents case, however, which leaves only two real options for the special counsel -- file a motion in Cannon's court asking for her recusal or, if that fails, going over her head to the 11th Circuit with a request for them to remove her.

Such moves are "rarely successful," the outlet noted, but that won't stop the "chorus of legal experts" and the likes of former U.S. Attorney Vance from continuing to raise the issue in the hope of forcing Cannon's eventual recusal or removal

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