Judge Cannon Caves To Jack Smith’s Urgent Request For Protecting Witnesses In Trump Case

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Federal Judge Aileen Cannon has effectively caved to at least substantial portions of a request from Special Counsel Jack Smith amid a federal criminal case against former President Donald Trump over his handling of government documents from his time in office.

Cannon, who was originally nominated for the federal judiciary by Trump himself when the ex-president was still in office, has faced criticism throughout her involvement in Trump-related proceedings for argued benefits she’s provided the former commander-in-chief. The concerns include her insistence on keeping alive (in the context of discussions of jury instructions specifically) an argument that prosecutors detest of the federal Presidential Records Act (PRA) supposedly helping Trump out legally amid claims that the government says don’t even hinge on that piece of law.

But now, she’s allowing for keeping the identities of some witnesses for the government under wraps after all. She’d originally set up their release, spurring a motion from prosecutors for her to reconsider that stance.

Cannon “has now ruled on that motion for reconsideration, and while chastising the Special Counsel for its failure to abide by local procedural rules and raise certain arguments and facts earlier, she concedes those witness names shouldn’t become public record after all,” legal analyst Lisa Rubin said. Rubin added that Cannon faced the suspected possibility of a push for her outright removal from the case in the event that she’d actually gone ahead with making the witness names public.

“Some former prosecutors in my orbit had predicted that if Cannon denied the motion for reconsideration, thereby forcing the revelation of witness names, the Special Counsel would take an immediate appeal to the 11th Circuit & might ask for Cannon’s removal too,” Rubin said on X, the social site formerly called Twitter.

Legal expert Norm Eisen had the same perspective, casting Cannon’s decision as in the shadow of possible action by that federal appeals court. On the same site, he called the move a “Major about face because she was scared of what the 11 Circuit would do.”