Editorial: Cannon fodder: Judge Aileen Cannon is there to advance an agenda

In 2020, Donald Trump made a bet that is today paying off: nominating Florida Federal Judge Aileen Cannon, who now oversees the classified documents case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Friday, Cannon held a stunning hearing on whether Smith was legally appointed in the first place.

The authority of the U.S. attorney general to name a special counsel has been challenged before and always upheld, yet Cannon is entertaining this settled matter and not even with arguments submitted on paper alone, but by wasting a full day in court on the back and forth. She even let outside parties join the fray and make their points in court, an extraordinary display of judicial leniency.

Smith’s position is constitutional, as was Bob Mueller’s when he probed Trump’s 2016 Russia connection, as are the two special counsels who looked at the Biden family: Robert Hur, who investigated President Joe’s handling of classified docs (which was dropped without charges) and David Weiss, who prosecuted and convicted First Son Hunter in Delaware on gun charges and will try Hunter in California on tax charges in September.

During Friday’s hearing, Cannon needled prosecutors about AG Merrick Garland’s role over the investigation, appearing to at least tacitly accept the premise that there might be some politically-motivated meddling here.

Cannon is showing no actual legal philosophy, only that she’s a novice judge and loyal to Trump and skeptical of the efforts to hold him accountable, for ideological reasons that extend well beyond the boundaries of something as pedestrian as a cohesive legal approach.

This is, of course, what Trump appointed her for; Trump couldn’t have known that Cannon, specifically, would one day be presiding over a federal criminal trial into his conduct, but legal acumen and experience were not big priorities in finding people for these lifetime jobs on the bench. Political alignment was what mattered.

That’s paying off, and it should be understood as a racket by both observers and the legislators who have oversight functions over the courts. It’s not just the Supreme Court that has been openly co-opted by the extreme right and the MAGA crowd, but judges at all levels of the judiciary.

The reality right now is that, even if this long-shot and harebrained effort at derailing the Smith investigations fails, Cannon’s already delivered Trump a significant victory. Her antics are eating up valuable time, making it less and less likely the documents cases will move to the trial phase before the November election.

That means that the American electorate will not get to see the case presented against Trump in these very serious matters. They also won’t have the chance to know a jury’s verdict.

As much as Trumpworld tried to wave it away, the former president’s guilty verdict on 34 felony counts in the Manhattan hush money case moved the needle with voters, including independents and older voters who’ve turned away from Trump in the wake of the conviction.

Voters deserve clarity on the frankly much more serious question of whether Trump can be held responsible for willfully withholding sensitive classified documents. Thanks to Cannon, they probably won’t get that.