The stall is on

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. Original: The White House. Derivative work: J. J. Messerly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In a profoundly dubious ruling,[9] the judge in a case initially laughed off as ridiculous and indeed self-incriminating[10] has granted Donald Trump’s request for a “special master” to review[11] documents the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized[12] in its search of Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago.[13]

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., a Harvard Law School professor, said anyone targeted by a search warrant fears reputational harm, but that does not mean they can get special masters appointed. He called Judge [Aileen] Cannon’s reasoning “thin at best” and giving “undue weight” to the fact that Mr. [Donald] Trump is a former president.

“I find that deeply problematic,” he said, emphasizing that the criminal justice system was supposed to treat everyone equally. “This court is giving special considerations to the former president that ordinary, everyday citizens do not receive.”

Samuel W. Buell, a Duke University law professor, agreed.

“To any lawyer with serious federal criminal court experience who is being honest, this ruling is laughably bad, and the written justification is even flimsier,” he wrote in an email. “Donald Trump is getting something no one else ever gets in federal court, he’s getting it for no good reason, and it will not in the slightest reduce the ongoing howls that he is being persecuted, when he is being privileged.”[14]

So the ruling is ludicrous and would likely be overturned on appeal. But in the meantime, it does its damage, and as Amber Phillips explains, “Dragging investigations out on procedural grounds is [Donald] Trump’s MO [modus operandi] in legal battles.”[15]

If the Justice Department does appeal, the ensuing legal fight could take longer than any document review by the special master — and there is no guarantee that the government would prevail, particularly if the case were to reach the Supreme Court, to which Trump appointed three justices during his presidency and solidified a 6 to 3 conservative majority.

“The Supreme Court has said it’s an open question the extent to which a former president can assert claims of executive privilege against a sitting president,” said former federal judge Paul G. Cassell, who teaches at the University of Utah law school. “Maybe this will be the case that determines and helps settle that open question.”[16]

If the Department of Justice appeals this all the way to the Supreme Court, we will know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they’re stalling, that Trump’s strategy is, in fact, their strategy, that they are determined to avoid prosecuting him.

William Rivers Pitt, “An Enron-Inspired Law May Be a Sharper Legal Threat to Trump Than Espionage Act,” Truthout, August 30, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/an-enron-inspired-law-may-be-a-sharper-legal-threat-to-trump-than-espionage-act/

Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut, “Americans are starting to get it: we can’t let Trump – or Trumpism – back in office,” Guardian, August 30, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/30/trump-republicans-voters-midterms-democrats

Ishaan Tharoor, “The debate over American fascism gets louder,” Washington Post, August 30, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/08/30/fascism-biden-trump-american-history/

Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. says Trump team may have hidden, moved classified papers,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-documents-removed-storage-room/

Perry Stein et al., “Justice filing points to new legal trouble for Trump and lawyers, experts say,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-lawyers-legal-jeopardy/

Jennifer Rubin, “Former GOP Justice lawyers: Trump’s in a heap of trouble,” Washington Post, September 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/republican-lawyers-trump-documents/

Amber Phillips, “Takeaways from Biden’s warnings about Republican threats to democracy,” Washington Post, September 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/01/biden-democracy-speech-takeaways/

Greg Sargent, “MAGA Republicans are seething with rage because Biden hit his target,” Washington Post, September 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/02/biden-speech-philadelphia-trump-maga-republicans-democracy/

Eric Tucker, “Trump search inventory released, reveals new details on docs,” Associated Press, September 2, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-6bd103a8e418166b17a34d77e8d9102d

Andrew Kaczynski and Samantha Woodward, “Donald Trump has repeatedly called for lengthy jail sentences for those who he claimed mishandled classified information,” CNN, September 3, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/03/politics/trump-jail-sentences-mishandled-classified-information-kfile/index.html

David Frum, “Biden Laid the Trap. Trump Walked Into It,” Atlantic, September 4, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/trump-pennsylvania-rally-republicans/671344/

Charlie Savage, “As Midterms Near, Election Rule Raises Dilemma for Trump Inquiries,” New York Times, September 4, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/04/us/trump-investigations-midterm-elections.html

Lauren Gambino and David Smith, “Could unexpected Democratic gains foil a midterm Republican victory?” Guardian, September 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/04/midterm-democrats-victory-republicans-trump

Jess Bravin and Aruna Viswanatha, “Judge Grants Donald Trump’s Request for Independent Review of Mar-a-Lago Documents,” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-partly-grants-donald-trumps-request-for-independent-review-of-mar-a-lago-documents-11662395427

Charlie Savage, “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry,” New York Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/05/us/trump-special-master-aileen-cannon.html

Eric Tucker, “Judge grants Trump bid for special master in Mar-a-Lago case,” Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-09-05/judge-grants-trump-bid-for-special-master-in-mar-a-lago-case

Ann E. Marimow and Devlin Barrett, “Judge’s special-master order a test of Trump’s post-White House powers,” Washington Post, September 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/06/trump-judge-cannon-special-master-order/


  1. [9]Ann E. Marimow and Devlin Barrett, “Judge’s special-master order a test of Trump’s post-White House powers,” Washington Post, September 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/06/trump-judge-cannon-special-master-order/; Charlie Savage, “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry,” New York Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/05/us/trump-special-master-aileen-cannon.html
  2. [10]Igor Derysh, “‘Lawyers are giggling’: Legal experts scratch their heads at Trump’s ‘very strange’ new DOJ lawsuit,” Salon, August 23, 2022, https://www.salon.com/2022/08/23/lawyers-are-giggling-legal-experts-scratch-their-heads-at-trumps-very-strange-new-doj/; Jennifer Rubin, “Trump’s risk of indictment for his document snatch just skyrocketed,” Washington Post, August 23, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/23/trump-documents-indictment-risk-skyrocket/
  3. [11]Jess Bravin and Aruna Viswanatha, “Judge Grants Donald Trump’s Request for Independent Review of Mar-a-Lago Documents,” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-partly-grants-donald-trumps-request-for-independent-review-of-mar-a-lago-documents-11662395427; Charlie Savage, “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry,” New York Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/05/us/trump-special-master-aileen-cannon.html; Eric Tucker, “Judge grants Trump bid for special master in Mar-a-Lago case,” Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-09-05/judge-grants-trump-bid-for-special-master-in-mar-a-lago-case
  4. [12]Devlin Barrett et al., “FBI searched Trump’s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say,” Washington Post, August 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/11/garland-trump-mar-a-lago/; Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, “Agents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago seized 11 sets of classified documents, court filing shows,” Washington Post, August 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/12/trump-warrant-release/; Josh Dawsey et al., “FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search followed months of resistance, delay by Trump,” Washington Post, August 23, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/23/trump-records-mar-a-lago-fbi/; Alex Leary, Aruna Viswanatha, and Sadie Gurman, “FBI Recovered Eleven Sets of Classified Documents in Trump Search, Inventory Shows,” Washington Post, August 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fbi-recovered-eleven-sets-of-classified-documents-in-trump-search-inventory-shows-11660324501; Eric Tucker, “Trump search inventory released, reveals new details on docs,” Associated Press, September 2, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-6bd103a8e418166b17a34d77e8d9102d; Jan Wolfe, Alex Leary, and Sadie Gurman, “Mar-a-Lago Boxes Had More Than 700 Pages of Classified Papers, National Archives Letter Says,” Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/letter-to-trump-lawyer-highlights-national-archives-concern-over-sensitive-materials-before-mar-a-lago-search-11661271403
  5. [13]Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, “Trump says FBI conducting search of Mar-a-Lago estate,” Associated Press, August 8, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-9e8d683afe87389407950af7ccfdbdd6
  6. [14]Charlie Savage, “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry,” New York Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/05/us/trump-special-master-aileen-cannon.html
  7. [15]Amber Phillips to 5-minute Fix list, Washington Post, September 6, 2022, https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?trackId=5a39652eae7e8a58807f9446&s=6317d00bab732227d0107e4b&linknum=4&linktot=48
  8. [16]Ann E. Marimow and Devlin Barrett, “Judge’s special-master order a test of Trump’s post-White House powers,” Washington Post, September 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/06/trump-judge-cannon-special-master-order/

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