Trump Special Master Case Dismissed For Being Rancid Dumpster Fire Unrelated To Facts Or Law
After a withering smackdown 10 days ago from the Eleventh Circuit, US District Judge Aileen Cannon has finally dismissed Donald Trump's effort to block the Justice Department using documents seized pursuant to a judicially authorized warrant in the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago. No more special master; no more ban on using lawfully collected evidence to investigate the former president for stealing government property; no more ridiculous arguments that a document can be simultaneously "personal" and subject to executive privilege.
Which is good, because OMG, SHUT UP that is not how any of this works.
"This case is DISMISSED FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION. Any scheduled hearings are CANCELED, any pending motions are DENIED AS MOOT, and all deadlines are TERMINATED. The Clerk of Court shall CLOSE this case," she wrote in a terse order closing forever this chapter of burning humiliation which will follow her for the rest of her career.
As it should.
This was a gross, partisan arrogation of power by someone who should never have been anywhere near the federal judiciary. We can't do anything about Judge Cannon's life tenure on the bench — please ignore unserious people calling to impeach her, the time for hopium is long since past. But we can make fun of her for being a craven hack who is bad at her job. And we absolutely should!
To review, Donald Trump spent upwards of a year refusing first entreaties by the National Archives and a grand jury subpoena to return documents he stole from the federal government and stashed in his pool locker. After prosecutors secured a warrant from US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, the FBI found hundreds of government records as well as dozens of classified documents, including some that were highly classified.
The press immediately sued to shake loose information about the search, but Trump did fuck all to challenge the validity of the warrant for two weeks, until Laura Ingraham goaded his team into filing an absolute garbage fire lawsuit alleging that the search was invalid because the Justice Department is biased. And by the luck of the draw, they wound up in front of the only jurist who wouldn't laugh them out of court.
Here in US America, it's pretty much axiomatic that the government gets to keep your shit. If a drug dealer hides his stash in the wheel well of his car, the cops are gonna hang onto that vehicle as evidence, and no court in the land is going to make 'em give it back. Nonetheless Judge Cannon subjected the search to a total fictional standard of review, concluding that she had the right to deprive the government of evidence and allow Trump to challenge it before an indictment was ever filed. That is just not a thing, as the Eleventh Circuit noted in the opening paragraph of its opinion.
“This appeal requires us to consider whether the district court had jurisdiction to block the United States from using lawfully seized records in a criminal investigation,” wrote the panel of two Trump appointees and a conservative jurist Trump considered for the Supreme Court. “The answer is no.”
"We have emphasized again and again that equitable jurisdiction exists only in response to the most callous disregard of constitutional rights, and even then only if other factors make it clear that judicial oversight is absolutely necessary," the panel went on, adding that Judge Cannon's tortured logic, "if consistently applied—would allow any subject of a search warrant to invoke a federal court’s equitable jurisdiction."
Is Judge Cannon under the impression that conservatives are about increasing due process rights for criminal suspects? Because they are not!
And apparently, although it is reportedly not his habit, this time Trump took "no" for an answer. His lawyers didn't even bother to even ask for en banc review, much less a stay pending appeal to the Supreme Court. This entire embarrassing chapter is now over, unless Trump prolongs the agony by refusing to pay the bill for Judge Dearie's team. (Why would he bother, now that he gets to pay for everything out of PAC and donor cash?)
So now we return from the land of Calvinball to IRL law. And we likely return to DC for any further disputes after this unplanned junket to Florida. This will probably put Trump in front of Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who is currently adjudicating executive privilege claims made by various members of the Trump administration seeking to avoid testifying to the various grand juries investigating him under the aegis of Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Last week, Judge Howell refused to find the former president in contempt of court for his failure to designate a custodian of records to attest to his compliance with the subpoena for records. This is likely because no one besides Christina Bobb is dumb enough to sign such a document, and they already burned her credibility before the search in a written declaration in which she pinky swore that there were no more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago — LOL!
In the end, Trump's temper tantrum in public and in court managed to throw a sand in the Justice Department's gears for three months. But other than that, it was a total failure that only served to provide us all with a window into just how egregiously he violated federal records laws, despite the government bending over backwards to let him get correct without legal penalty.
Slow fuckin' clap.
[Trump v. US, docket via Court Listener]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.