Meet Aileen Cannon, the federal judge in Florida randomly assigned to oversee the criminal case against Donald Trump in the classified documents investigation.
Concerns over her impartiality are already clouding the proceedings.
That’s because she was nominated to the federal bench in the first place by then-President Trump himself.
“She only has to take small steps in order to throw this thing off track for the Justice Department," said Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor.
Forty-two-year-old Cannon was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in Miami.
She credits her mother – who fled Cuba as a young girl — as her inspiration to get involved in the U.S. legal system.
"To my loving mother Mercedes, who at the age of seven had to flee the repressive Castro regime in search of freedom and security — thank you for teaching me about the blessing that is this country, and for the importance of securing the rule of law for generations," Cannon said.
Cannon received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and attended law school at the University of Michigan from 2005 to 2007.
After graduation she worked for several law firms across the country, including in Washington, D.C., Iowa, and Florida.
She was officially confirmed as a federal judge by the U.S. Senate in November 2020.
At the time of her appointment she was a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that is said to have influenced Trump's judicial nominations.
Still, she has the solid resume of a qualified legal professional.
But Judge Cannon’s previous ties to Trump, along with her rulings in a previous lawsuit tied to the classified documents saga, are raising some eyebrows.
"The opinion, I think, was wrong and I think the government should appeal it," said William Barr, former U.S. Attorney General. "It’s deeply flawed in a number of ways."
Judge Cannon approved Trump’s request to block the Justice Department from accessing the recovered documents until they could be reviewed for potential executive privilege — a decision that was appealed and eventually overturned by a conservative appeals court.
Judge Cannon could choose to recuse herself from the case.
But if she continues to oversee the proceedings, those who have worked with her before say they’re confident in her ability to make the right calls.
"If I learned one thing about working with Judge Cannon, I know that she can be counted upon to work as hard as she can work to get the right answers," said Jason Mendro, a lawyer and former colleague.
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