Tag: aileen cannon
Trump: I'll Have The Loser Combo Plate And A Diet Coke, Please

Trump: I'll Have The Loser Combo Plate And A Diet Coke, Please

What follows is my umpteenth-plus report on the Trump stolen documents case. To continue following my peregrinations through the courts covering this nonsense, please consider becoming a paid Substack subscriber and help me find my way.

This is what it sounds like when a Circuit Court of Appeals slams the door on you: “The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”

The decision that came down on Thursday night against Donald Trump by the 11th Circuit was unanimous. Before the court’s recent decisions against him, Trump would have described the two judges on the panel he had appointed to the bench as “mine,” the same way he described as “mine” the hundreds of classified documents he had squirreled away in a dank basement of Mar-a-Lago and in a drawer of his own desk. In its 21-page decision, the 11th Circuit all but told him, no they’re not, and no we’re not.

I’ve been down the various rabbit holes the DOJ and the 11th Circuit have wandered through because a single federal judge in Florida, the execrable Eileen Cannon, took it upon herself to step out of her judicial robes and take on what is constitutionally the job of the executive branch, namely, making decisions about whether to undertake an investigation of a citizen for committing a federal crime. Cannon figured she knew better than the attorney general of the United States, whose job it is to investigate federal crimes, so she threw a series of roadblocks in front of the Department of Justice, which was attempting to determine why in God’s name Donald Trump had taken some 22,000 documents owned by the federal government to his home and office in Palm Beach, Florida, and what he did with them.

Judge Cannon put a hold on the DOJ’s use of the documents, all 22,000 of them, as evidence in its investigation, and turned them over to a special master in Brooklyn, of all places, to review the whole lot of them to see if any were subject to either attorney-client or executive privilege protections.

The DOJ quickly got the 11th Circuit to step in and remove from the special master review the hundreds of classified documents found in the possession of the former president by pointing out the obvious: They have markings on them bearing several levels of classification by the federal government which clearly labeled them as property of the government. The DOJ’s second appeal, asking that the entire process of the special master review be halted and all of the documents returned to its investigation, is the one which the 11th Circuit ruled on Thursday night. To put it mildly, it wasn’t a good night for Judge Cannon. The 11th Circuit found she lacked jurisdiction and basically said that her entire “theory of the case” was laughable on its face.

Trump has already been to the Supreme Court once, asking that they overrule the 11th Circuit’s first decision on the classified documents. The Supreme Court refused to hear that appeal with no dissents, strongly indicating that it will do the same thing again if Trump appeals the circuit court's latest decision.

It's been quite a month for the former president. “His” election-denying candidates, almost every one of them, lost their races for various offices around the land on Election Day. Later in November, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a former U. S. attorney, Jack Smith, as special counsel to run both investigations of Trump – one into his attempts to overturn the election of 2020 and his incitement of the attack on the Capitol, and the other into his theft and mishandling of classified documents after he left office. Smith has been serving as chief prosecutor at the International Court of Justice at the Hague in the Netherlands. The prospect of having Jack Smith look into the crimes he is alleged to have committed is not a welcome one for the former president.

And then last week, Trump decided he would invite a notorious anti-semite and apologist for Adolph Hitler over for dinner at his club in Palm Beach. His dinner guest, the rapper and former multi-billionaire Ye, brought along a friend of his, Nick Fuentes, another notorious anti-semite, Holocaust denier, and admirer of Hitler. Fuentes, you will recall, was one of those who marched around Charlottesville, Virginia back in 2017, carrying tiki torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

Trump was still dealing with the blow-back from that dinner when it became known that his former chief of staff, the oily and unctuous Mark Meadows, has been ordered to testify before the special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, which is looking into, among other things, Trump’s phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, when he asked the man in charge of the state’s elections to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” so that he would be declared winner of the presidential election in Georgia. Meadows, it turns out, placed the phone call to the Georgia secretary of state, and once he got him on the line, handed the phone to his boss, Donald Trump. So, he was involved in the clearly illegal call (election tampering), he had obviously discussed it beforehand with Trump, and he doubtless has more to tell the Georgia grand jury than has come out so far.

Then “his” justices on the Supreme Court ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee can have access to a whole slew of Trump's tax returns that will show that he has never, ever paid any federal taxes.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the grand jury now being supervised by Jack Smith has been very busy. Former Trump aide Stephen Miller testified before that grand jury this past week – the one investigating January 6 and the efforts made by Trump to overturn the election of 2020. Later in the week, a federal judge ordered two former White House lawyers, Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, to testify before the same grand jury. Cipollone and Philbin testified in September, but refused to answer some questions, citing executive privilege. Trump sued in federal court asserting executive privilege in an attempt to prevent his two lawyers from being forced to testify and answer the questions they refused last time. The legal proceedings have gone on behind closed doors with the judge overseeing the grand jury in Washington. He has previously ordered other witnesses to testify when they tried to assert executive privilege, and it appears that is the case with these two very key witnesses.

Speaking of witnesses, we are, beginning today, witness to The Whole Thing Coming Apart at the Seams for Donald Trump. Nothing has been going right for the man. He announced his candidacy for president at mid-month in November and has not done a thing as a candidate yet. No rallies. No announcements of endorsements. No big statements on World Affairs. In fact, the only major public statement he’s made was a video he taped for something called the Patriot Freedom Project, a far-right extremist group raising money for the families of indicted and convicted 1/6 insurrectionists. “People have been treated unconstitutionally, in my opinion, and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” Trump said in the video. “The country is going communist.”

Trump hasn’t acted like a candidate or spoken like a candidate or looked like a candidate. Oh, wait a minute. I forgot that he got on his Truth Social account one night recently and spread right-wing, white supremacist, and QAnon conspiracy theories for hours. The sole positive thing that has happened for him, if it can be called that, is having his Twitter account restored by the odious Elon Musk. That would be the social media network on which hate speech has skyrocketed since Musk took it over, according to a report in the New York Times this morning.

We have wondered for six years when something like this would happen. He’s being forced to give a deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s rape lawsuit. His closest aides are spending half their time with their own lawyers and the other half being questioned by lawyers before grand juries. A court to which he appointed two judges has ruled against him unanimously not once but twice in a case involving the search of his residence and office by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago. The search was legal, the court said. Former presidents are subject to the same laws everyone else must obey.

And Trump himself? Well, he’s out there posting hate and cozying up to Nazis and whining about being victimized as he watches the transactional sycophants in his party inch away from him not because he’s an awful person who spreads hate and tells lies and breaks the law, but because he’s a loser.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Latest Hearing On Stolen Documents Didn't Go Well For Trump's Lawyer

Latest Hearing On Stolen Documents Didn't Go Well For Trump's Lawyer

This is my umpteenth report on the Trump stolen documents case. To continue following my peregrinations through the courts covering this nonsense, consider becoming a paid subscriber and help me find my way.

In addition to losing at the Supreme Court on Tuesday in his appeal to keep his tax records out of the hands of Congress, Trump had a bad time at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, too.

Three Republican-appointed judges – two put on the bench by Trump and one by George Bush – expressed barely concealed skepticism of arguments put forth by James Trusty, the attorney for Donald Trump, who faced off against the Department of Justice in its appeal seeking to cancel the special master appointed by another Trump judge, Aileen Cannon of Florida.

The case has been dragging its way through the courts since Trump petitioned Cannon to appoint a special master to review the thousands of documents seized by the FBI last August from Trump’s residence and office at his Mar-a-Lago resort/hotel/club in Palm Beach, Florida. This is the second time the DOJ has appealed to the 11th Circuit about the matter.

In its first appeal, the DOJ sought to have 103 folders of classified documents released from the review by the special master so they could be used as evidence in its criminal investigation of the former president. The 11th Circuit granted that appeal in September. Two of the judges who heard the case today signed the decision in September – Judges Andrew L. Brasher and Britt C. Grant – in ruling unanimously against Trump. They were joined on Tuesday by the chief justice of the 11th Circuit, William H. Pryor Jr., the former attorney general of Alabama.

Trump went to court today with an argument the DOJ called “novel and erroneous” in the brief filed last week. The Trump position on the documents he removed from the White House when he left office in January of 2021 and took with him to Mar-a-Lago was that because he was president at the time when the boxes of documents were put on a truck and driven to Florida, they were ipso facto his property.

As the DOJ pointed out in its brief last week and on Tuesday during oral arguments, that argument flies in the face of the Presidential Records Act, a federal law passed by Congress after Watergate, which mandates that all documents and materials produced or used by a president while in office are the property of the government, not the individual serving as president. Perhaps realizing the ”I took them, so they’re mine” argument wasn’t holding much water, Trump’s lawyers took another slant on the case. The appointment of the special master was necessary and should be maintained, they said, because the search warrant executed in August was a “general warrant” and thus illegal.

“You didn’t establish that it was a general warrant,” Pryor told Trusty bluntly.

Judge Pryor didn’t think much of Trump’s lawyer’s arguments, and neither did the other two Trump-appointed judges, who ruled in September that Trump had failed to establish that the government had shown “callous disregard” for his constitutional rights in seeking the warrant from a federal judge and searching his home and office. The failure by the former president to prove callous disregard was “reason enough to conclude that the district court abused its discretion in exercising equitable jurisdiction here,” the 11th Circuit wrote in September.

Judge Pryor told Trump’s lawyer that he had to accept that not even Cannon had ruled that the government had shown callous disregard for Trump’s rights. “Your brief doesn’t even attempt to argue that it [callous disregard] was satisfied,” Pryor told Trusty.

Trump’s lawyers told the court that the search of Mar-a-Lago was illegal because the FBI had taken Trump’s golf shirts and a photo of Celine Dion along with the classified documents it seized in August. Pryor dismissed that argument with this: “The problem is, you know, the search warrant was for classified documents, and boxes, and other items that are intermingled with that. I don’t think it’s necessarily the fault of the government if someone has intermingled classified documents and all kinds of other personal property.”

At another point, Trump’s lawyer was cut off abruptly by Judge Grant when he called the search of Mar-a-Lago a “raid.” “Do you think a raid is the right term for the execution of a warrant?” Grant asked Trusty, who quickly apologized for using what he called “a loaded term.”

Trusty tried to argue that a search of a former president’s residence was a special case. Pryor wasn’t having that, either. “Other than the fact that this involves a former president, everything else about this … is indistinguishable,” Pryor told Trusty, referring to the search warrant. “We’ve got to be concerned about the precedent that we would create that would allow any target of offense of a federal criminal investigation to go into district court and to have a district court entertain this kind of petition…and interfere with the executive branch’s ongoing investigation,” Pryor said.

He then went even further. “If you can’t establish that it [the search] was unlawful,” Pryor said, “then what are we doing here?” Trusty replied that the former president had asked for the appointment of the special master hoping that by going through that complicated process, he could prove that the search was unlawful.

Pryor expressed amazement at the brazenness of the argument: “The end object of the search [through the records by the special master] is to establish it was an unlawful seizure?” Pryor asked Trusty. A CNN reporter who observed the arguments described the incredulity frequently expressed by the judges this way: “Pryor’s facial expressions throughout suggested exasperation with the Trump team’s arguments, as he repeatedly shook his head as Trusty attempted to answer his questions.”

Folks, it’s never a good sign when the chief judge in the court of appeals hearing your case is shaking his head in disbelief.

Stay tuned. We’ll be watching for the court’s ruling and will report on it here.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Justice Department Urges Appeals Court To Overturn Cannon Orders Entirely

Justice Department Urges Appeals Court To Overturn Cannon Orders Entirely

You remember what this whole thing is about, right? Donald J. Trump, on his second to the last day in office, took a whole truckload of official government documents, 11,000 in all, and other materials that did not belong to him, to his club/hotel/residence in Palm Springs, Florida, known as Mar-a-Lago, and refused to return them to the National Archives where under the Presidential Records Act they belong, until a threat was made to bring in the Department of Justice.

He then proceeded to dribble out the documents he had stolen in bits and chunks, a dozen boxes here, a manila envelope there, until the DOJ went to a federal judge and got a search warrant and the FBI conducted a search of Mar-a-Lago, turning up some 23 new boxes of the government’s material, including no less than 103 folders of classified documents, some marked Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, the rarest and highest classification the government can use, which the FBI found in boxes in Trump’s residence and office, and three of them were in one of the drawers of the former president’s desk.

And there things stood until Trump filed a motion with a different judge in Florida from the one who issued the search warrant, Aileen Mercedes Cannon, whom he had appointed in 2020 just before Election Day and who wasn’t confirmed until after he had lost the election. His motion asked the judge to appoint a special master to review all 11,000 documents seized by the FBI for possible attorney-client or executive privilege and to bar the DOJ from using any of the documents in its criminal investigation of Trump.

Filings and motions flew about like bats swooping through the night air after mosquitoes. I have done my diligent best to cover all these activities in various courts, including Judge Cannon’s, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Trying to keep up with all the action in Trump v. U.S. has been exhausting. Earlier this week, it looked like we had reached a denouement of sorts when the Supreme Court in a 35-word order threw Trump’s emergency motion out the door without a single dissenting vote or comment.

And yet, and yet, here we are once again straining our eyes and firing our limp and expended synapses trying to understand why this Trumpian bullshit is still before the courts, and so, still beneath our tired gaze.

This time, the DOJ has filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit asking the appeals court to overturn the entirety of Judge Cannon’s original order sending the stolen Mar-a-Lago documents, all 11,000 of them, to the special master for review, and at least one of her subsequent orders doing something I cannot bring myself to look up but which had to have been as unprecedented as it was bogus on its face.

From the DOJ appeal and from my many readings of the various motions and filings, I can dimly recall that the 11th Circuit had already returned the 103 folders of classified documents to the DOJ so they could use them in the criminal investigation of Trump, as well as in the review by the Director of National Intelligence of damage to the national security which may have happened because of Trump’s mishandling of so many classified documents and documents containing national defense information. (He stored them for a time in a basement room with no lock on it in Mar a Lago, and the documents were handled by Trump aides and employees of his resort who were not cleared to even pick up much less see such sensitive national defense information.)

But Judge Cannon wasn’t finished. She most recently issued an order returning the 103 folders of classified documents to the purview of the special master, a move which made them available to Trump and his lawyers to examine at their leisure. I think the Supreme Court’s order overturned that Cannon order, but I’m too tired and sick of the whole thing to look it up and make sure.

Suffice to say, Trump’s various motions to Judge Cannon and her various orders have so muddled the situation surrounding the documents that Trump admits he took from the White House and stored in Mar-a-Lago, that the whole thing has devolved into a tangle of bogus filings by Trump and even more bogus orders by Judge Cannon, which the DOJ’s appeal to the 11th Circuit is attempting to undo.

That is why today’s filing is 57 pages long, fully 20 pages longer than its previous record of 37 pages. The DOJ is having to cover so many bogus issues raised by Cannon’s many legal errors and failures to properly follow precedent that they have outdone themselves. The DOJ takes seven pages in its “Table of Authorities” and cites no less than 61 cases and statutes it then refers to in its brief, some multiple times. Four of the cases have the name “Trump” in their titles, and one involves the warrant issued to the FBI authorizing the search of Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago.

The legal obfuscations by Trump are so numerous they create a low-lying legal fog that the DOJ takes three pages to drive through in its introduction; the brief then takes seven and a half pages to feel its way through the “Procedural History” of the case. Twenty-seven pages are spent in the DOJ’s “Argument,” listing all of the errors made by Cannon and the failures of Trump to meet his obligations under the law to prove various elements necessary to the issues he raised, such as failing to show the harm he would suffer if the DOJ regains full access to all of the documents which do not belong to Trump in the first place, and which Cannon ordered to be reviewed by the special master.

Paragraph titles in this lengthy section of the brief read like this:


Plaintiff Failed to Establish the “Foremost” Factor Needed for the Exercise of Jurisdiction.


Plaintiff Has No Plausible Claims of Executive Privilege.

Plaintiff cannot invoke executive privilege to bar the Executive Branch’s review and use of its own records.

Any claim of executive privilege as to the records bearing classification markings would fail for additional reasons.

Plaintiff Has No Plausible Claims of Attorney-Client Privilege That Would Justify an Injunction.

Plaintiff’s Purported Factual Disputes Are Irrelevant.

Plaintiff’s suggestion that he might have declassified the seized records is irrelevant.

Plaintiff’s suggestion that he might have categorized seized records as “personal” records under the PRA only weakens his executive privilege claims.


You can just taste the contempt dripping from the pens of the DOJ lawyers who signed the brief, can’t you?

Well, in the final sentence of the DOJ brief, you can almost hear Jay Bratt, who runs the department's counter-intelligence division, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and the other signatories to the brief taking a deep breath as they choke down what they would really like to say to the “plaintiff” and the federal district court which erred so egregiously throughout the case: “For the foregoing reasons, the Court should reverse the district court’s September 5 order with instructions to dismiss this action.”

The ”instructions,” should the 11th Circuit decide to approve the DOJ’s appeal, will be issued to the person Trump appointed to carry his water and who did so with such manifest gusto: Judge Aileen Mercedes Cannon.


Supreme Court Washes Its Hands Of Trump -- And Oh,That Stings!

Supreme Court Washes Its Hands Of Trump -- And Oh,That Stings!

The filing last week by Trump with the Supreme Court asking for a partial stay of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision removing 100 classified documents from the purview of the Special Master was 37 pages long. The Department of Justice response this week to the Trump motion was 32 pages long.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Trump’s motion, posted yesterday, consists of a single sentence on one page: “The application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Sept. 21, 2022, presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the court is denied.”

Not one justice, including Ginni’s husband, dissented. The decision came down exactly two days after the DOJ filed its response to the Trump filing.

Trump’s motion did not ask that the classified documents be barred from the DOJ’s criminal investigation of Trump. Instead, it asked that the classified documents be returned to the Special Master to be reviewed for possible attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. This would have meant that the highly classified documents, some marked as very rare “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information,” would have been available to Trump’s lawyers and thus to Trump himself.

There has been much speculation about why Trump would want to see the classified documents, but most legal experts theorized that the entire 37-page Supreme Court motion was simply another delaying tactic which would have allowed the Trump legal team to continue to make mischief with the documents, possibly by insisting that they be included in any possible criminal trial because the government wouldn’t want to introduce such sensitive secrets as evidence, causing charges against to be dismissed.

The court’s order is also a blow to the reputation and career of District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, whose orders have kept Trump in the courts with his motions and filings until today when the Supreme Court stepped in and told Trump, and his pet judge, to take a walk off a short pier. That the court took only two days to issue its order amounts to an even sharper slap to Cannon and her attempts to meddle in the DOJ’s investigation of Trump.

All that’s left to do now is for Judge Raymond Dearie, the Special Master, to make his recommendations to Judge Cannon, pretty much all of which will now be moot because Trump’s lawyers, if they want to continue to practice law and earn a living in this country, will tell Trump that his avenues of appeal have now dead-ended. There is nowhere else for Trump to go. His struggles with the DOJ have just come to a dead halt.

There is the possibility, which the DOJ is said to entertain, that Trump still has some classified documents he has not turned over to the FBI. Depending on the nature of these still missing documents – one already seized by the FBI contained information about nuclear weapons – Trump may use the documents in an attempt to graymail his way out of being indicted. This seems unlikely however, because nearly anything he could threaten to do with the documents would subject him to even more felony charges of mishandling national defense information or obstruction of justice.

Trump, who is famously blatant when he cheats at his favorite game, golf, has just met an opponent who won’t put up with his shenanigans: Merrick Garland. The Attorney General of the United States just scored a hole in one page with the Supreme Court.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter