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Former Federal Prosecutor Judge Aileen Cannon to Oversee Trump’s Trial

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In a historic turn of events, former President Donald Trump has become the first former president in U.S. history to be charged with federal crimes. A person familiar with the matter confirmed on Friday that the case has been assigned to Judge Aileen Cannon, a former federal prosecutor appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020. Judge Cannon currently presides in Fort Pierce, located about an hour’s drive north of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

While the indictment remains under seal, two individuals who are knowledgeable about the situation disclosed that it encompasses seven criminal charges. These charges reportedly include willful retention of national defense information, which falls under the Espionage Act, as well as obstruction of justice, as stated by Trump’s attorney. The former president has been ordered to appear in court in Miami on Tuesday.

Judge Aileen Cannon gained significant attention last year when she made a noteworthy decision to appoint a “special master” to review documents seized by the FBI. However, her order to temporarily bar federal agents and prosecutors from reviewing classified documents was later overturned by a federal appeals court, which deemed her actions as an overreach.

Trump’s supporters hailed the judge’s initial ruling as a check on what they perceived as a politically motivated investigation. The former president’s legal team argued that a special master was necessary to ensure an impartial review of the seized records, as well as to safeguard any personal information or documents that should be filtered out and returned to Trump. Nevertheless, some experts criticized Judge Cannon for granting undue deference to the former president and unnecessarily stalling certain investigative work by the Justice Department.

Prior to her appointment as a judge, Aileen Cannon served as an assistant U.S. attorney, primarily based in Fort Pierce, Florida. Throughout her career, she prosecuted 41 cases in the Major Crimes Division and handled appeals of criminal convictions and sentences. Judge Cannon is also affiliated with the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization known for advocating judges appointed by Trump, including Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Born in Cali, Colombia, in 1981, Judge Cannon immigrated to the United States as a child and eventually graduated from Duke University in 2003. One of her notable cases as a prosecutor involved a defendant in a substantial $800 million Ponzi scheme who unsuccessfully appealed his fraud convictions to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Richard Klugh, a Miami defense attorney who opposed her in that case, described Judge Cannon as “very bright and talented” and noted her fairness to the defense.

During her confirmation process in 2020, Judge Cannon was questioned about her discussions regarding loyalty to President Trump. In her written response, she stated that she had not engaged in any such discussions with individuals at the White House or the Justice Department.

Judge Cannon’s background also includes writing a series of articles for El Nuevo Herald, a Spanish-language newspaper in southern Florida, during her college years. The articles primarily focused on health and culture-related topics. After completing her degree at the University of Michigan in 2007, she worked as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Steven M. Colloton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Subsequently, she practiced law at the prestigious international firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., for three years.

During her confirmation hearing in July 2020, Judge Cannon expressed gratitude to her mother, who fled the repressive Castro regime in Cuba when she was seven years old. She thanked her mother for instilling in her the appreciation for the blessings of living in a country like the United States and the importance of upholding the rule of law for future generations.

As the legal proceedings unfold, all eyes will be on Judge Aileen Cannon as she navigates this historic case involving a former U.S. president. Her past experience, legal expertise, and commitment to fairness will undoubtedly play a significant role in the outcome of this landmark trial.

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