It Is Inexcusable How Judge Cannon Is Delaying the Trump Documents Case

The task before Judge Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over the classified documents case of Donald Trump, is not easy. She must protect both Mr. Trump’s constitutional rights while also ensuring the prompt and fair administration of justice.

Still, it is inexcusable that she is utterly failing to keep the case moving along in a fair but timely manner. And unfortunately, there isn’t much that the special counsel in the case, Jack Smith, can do about it.

While working as an attorney in the C.I.A.’s Office of General Counsel, I developed an expertise in Espionage Act prosecutions similar to the one pending against Mr. Trump, who is accused of illegally taking classified state documents from the White House after he left office and then obstructing the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve them. I know firsthand that cases like this can be quite complicated and lengthy.

But outside of the unique issues raised by Mr. Trump’s status as a former president (for example, immunity and the Presidential Records Act), the prosecution against him is actually not particularly complex. The volume of classified records subject to discovery is not outside the norm, and if the defendant were not Donald Trump, this would be a relatively routine Espionage Act prosecution for unlawful retention of classified records.

With a competent and determined judge, Mr. Trump’s due process rights could have been well protected and the trial could have reasonably been set for this summer. However, this is not the first time Judge Cannon — a Trump appointee — has granted delay after delay, and thanks to a recent scheduling order, it’s now all but certain that the case will not go to trial until after Election Day.

If Mr. Trump wins, the election, the case will be effectively over. The Trump Justice Department would almost certainly dismiss the indictment at his behest when the clock strikes noon on Jan. 20, 2025.

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