Former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal indictment on charges stemming from his handling of classified documents will be overseen — at least initially — by a federal judge who a higher court criticized for handing him a series of unusually favorable rulings during the early stages of the investigation, according to five people familiar with the matter.
The judge, Aileen M. Cannon, who Mr. Trump himself appointed to the bench in 2020, his final year in office, is scheduled, at least for now, to preside over the former president’s first appearance in Federal District Court in Miami on Tuesday, the people said. But it was not clear whether Judge Cannon would remain assigned for the entirety of Mr. Trump’s case.
Judge Cannon’s involvement was earlier reported by ABC News.
While judges are typically given cases by a random process, it is also customary to hand incoming matters to judges who have dealt with related ones.
Last fall, Judge Cannon presided over an unusual and highly contentious legal battle between the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s lawyers over whether to pause the documents investigation so that an outside arbiter could review thousands of records seized by the F.B.I. from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida.
Ruling for Mr. Trump, Judge Cannon effectively froze a significant portion of the government’s inquiry, barring prosecutors from using the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago for any “investigative purpose” connected to the case against Mr. Trump until the work of the arbiter, known as a special master, was finished.
An appeals court sitting in Atlanta ultimately overruled Judge Cannon, scrapped the special master’s review and allowed the investigation of Mr. Trump to resume unhindered.
In a sharply critical decision, a three-member panel of the appeals court said Judge Cannon never had the proper jurisdiction to intervene in the case and order the review. The court also chided her for stopping federal investigators from using the files seized from Mar-a-Lago, saying there was no justification for treating Mr. Trump differently from any other target of a search warrant.
“It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president — but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation,” the court wrote.
Alan Feuer covers extremism and political violence. He joined The Times in 1999. @alanfeuer
William K. Rashbaum is a senior writer on the Metro desk, where he covers political and municipal corruption, courts, terrorism and law enforcement. He was a part of the team awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. @WRashbaum • Facebook
Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT
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