11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Wednesday evening overturned US District Court Judge Eileen Cannon’s refusal to grant the Justice Department a stay in the Mar-a-Lago documents case (the second outrageous part of Cannon’s work involving stolen White House documents). The decision of the Court of Appeal was like waking up from a bad dream.
Many commentators, myself included, have emphasized that the legal and logical errors in Cannon’s rulings were not subtle or even matters of judicial philosophy. Rather, they were blunders caused by ridiculously bad and possibly biased judicial reasoning.
They have made basic mistakes such as ignoring the need for evidence and evidence, and they have repeatedly invaded executive territory on issues such as assessing damages caused by Trump’s handling of classified documents requiring FBI involvement.
The 11th District’s rebuke was final. The unanimous opinion of two Trump-appointed judges and one Obama-appointed judge deviated from Cannon’s bottom line and almost all of her sloppy reasoning. “Per curiam” emphasizes the decision; it means that the court spoke in one voice, and not two judges joined the author’s opinion of the third.
And given how quickly the judges of the 11th circuit acted, it is safe to bet that the opinion was written at the time when the documents of the parties arrived. the damage to national security and the Justice Department’s criminal investigation by Cannon must be stopped.
On the basic question of whether Trump has any proprietary interest in the classified documents in question, the court could not be more certain: “We cannot understand why [Trump] will have a personal interest in or need for any of the 100 class-marked documents.”
It sounds understated, but – oh – in the appellate judge’s speech, it’s basically a way of saying that Cannon went mad in declining the department’s request to leave her decision that documents marked as classified should be out of the reach of an investigation.
In the same serious tone, the court mowed down suggestion after suggestion that formed the ramshackle forests of Cannon’s thinking. Of course, the United States will be harmed if it fails to conduct criminal investigations and national intelligence checks related to classified documents. Obviously, Trump did not even try to show the need for information in documents. It is clear that there is no particular harm to Trump if he is under criminal investigation.
This last point was particularly important because it led Cannon to be rebuked—politely again—for her disgusting decision that Trump should perhaps not be prosecuted because he is a former president.
As for Trump’s modest attempts to do both on the declassification issue—assuming he declassified the documents but providing no evidence—the 11th District went even further in torpedoing the case than Judge Raymond Deary, Special Master. assigned to the case in Cannon’s will was executed.
Deary told Trump’s lawyers they would have to resign themselves or shut up on the declassification evidence. But the commission of the 11th district completely removed this issue from discussion. He concluded that Trump’s declassification of the documents was a “red herring” because declassification would not change the content of the documents or make them personal. In other words, the content is what determines whether a document belongs to Trump or the government.
Presumably, the decision of the Court of Appeal greatly simplifies the special main task Dear. He will be able to quickly filter among the documents what is subject to attorney-client privilege. As far as balance goes, including which documents may be covered by the executive privilege, the 11th District appears to require specific proof of Trump’s personal interest in the content in order to even challenge the documents. In any case, the interlude of Cannon’s special workshop installation should not interfere with a vigorous criminal investigation into the Mar-a-Lago documents.
Overall, District 11 signaled a significant reduction, if not elimination, of Cannon’s malicious behavior.
Trump once again tried to push through his declassification defense in an interview Wednesday night with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “There doesn’t have to be a process,” he said. “If you are the president… you can declassify… even if you think about it.” The District Court’s decision debunks that fantasy.
Cannon received a derogatory remark in her first case of any kind of notoriety. The obvious lesson for her is that she needs a solid law backed by factual evidence to protect the interests of the former president in the future. In light of the 11th District’s instructions, the worst thing she did would be fixed and the system dodged the cannonball.