Aileen Cannon Confesses She’s Unable to Distinguish between Golf Balls and Nuclear Weapons

Depending on how you count, Aileen Cannon issued three or four decisions yesterday.

The most telling is an order letting Trump have a mulligan on whether his false attacks on the FBI pose a danger to society.

As Jack Smith’s team described in a filing, after a hearing on the matter on June 24, Judge Cannon permitted more evidence of what a menace Trump is, but ordered no additional briefing would be permitted.

During the hearing on June 24, 2024, the Court discussed with the parties (Hearing Transcript 6/24/2024 at 27) the potential need to supplement the evidentiary record regarding the Government’s Motion to Modify Conditions of Release, ECF No. 592. After the conclusion of the hearing, the Court issued a minute order setting the schedule and resolving the issue that the Court and the parties had discussed regarding the need for additional briefing. The minute order states: “Consistent with the instructions provided in open court, the evidentiary record on this Motion will be open until June 26, 2024, for the parties to file any additional evidentiary attachments/exhibits in support of, or in opposition to, the Motion 592. Any attachments/exhibits shall be docketed as a “Notice of Filing” (separated by exhibits) and limited to specific evidentiary submissions only. No additional briefing will be permitted.”

But then on Wednesday, Smith’s team brought out a bazooka, providing all the records showing Trump poses a threat to society (which I’ve linked below).

In advance of that, when Trump submitted a bunch of exhibits that seem totally off point, they requested leave — in two weeks — to say more.

President Trump respectfully requests leave to file a response to the expected Notice to be filed tonight by the Special Counsel’s Office. See 6/24/2024 Tr. at 27 (“If the defense requests an opportunity to file additional briefing, then you should make that very clear in — in any response that you file to the motion for additional evidence.”). The defense conferred with the Special Counsel’s Office today and understands that the Special Counsel intends to file numerous exhibits not previously relied upon in seeking its Motion for Modification of Conditions of Release. President Trump respectfully requests two weeks to file a response to the newly submitted evidence.

So Judge Cannon pinky swore, invented a reason to retract one of the only definitive orders she issued against Trump, and created another five weeks of delay over the question of whether Trump is a menace.

PAPERLESS ORDER: In light of the extensive, newly submitted materials filed by the Special Counsel and Defendant Trump in support of and/or in opposition to the Special Counsel’s Motion to Modify Conditions of Release 592, the Court will permit the parties to file one final supplemental brief in response to those newly submitted materials, not to exceed 10 double-spaced pages, on or before July 5, 2024. The Court takes note of the additional court orders included in composite exhibit 11 to the Special Counsel’s recently filed Notice 652 . Consistent with the Court’s statements during the July 25, 2024, afternoon hearing 649, the Court will consider such orders as cited legal authority on the Motion, not as part of the developed evidentiary record in this proceeding, and not for the factual findings set forth in those separate proceedings. The evidentiary record on the Motion is closed. Absent leave of Court, no further exhibits shall be attached to the authorized final supplemental briefs.

Cmon Aileen. You just gave this man five weeks to declare that his own texts aren’t what his own texts say.

At this point, journalists covering Judge Cannon need to put aside all pretense of normality, all pretense that one or another decision will doom Jack Smith’s case (never mind that what they often say misunderstands the evidence). That’s a category error.

That’s true because, the way things are going, this thing will never go to trial. And it’s also true because puff coverage of the actual substantive filings does nothing to rebut the very intentional propaganda that this effort is designed to generate, but only serves the cause of using this case to discredit rule of law and reality.

Which brings me to the other quasi-decisions Judge Cannon made yesterday.

On paper, she denied Trump a Franks hearing for his claim that the warrant to search his beach resort in any way lacked probable cause, dismissing one after another thing that Trump argued should have been included in the affidavit (and debunking that several were, as Trump claimed, misrepresentations).

Except for the last one. Judge Cannon ruled that a warrant searching a home for documents with classification markings and Presidential Records Act documents didn’t have anything to do with probable cause.

The final cited omission concerns the absence of a definition of “personal records” under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and related caselaw on a former President’s authority to designate records as “personal” under that Act [ECF No. 566 p. 9 (citing Jud. Watch, Inc. v. Nat’l Archives & Recs. Admin., 845 F. Supp. 2d 288, 300–304 (D.D.C. 2012))]. According to Defendant Trump, the affidavit offered the reviewing magistrate some guidance on the relevant legal statutes and definitions, including the definition of “Presidential records” under the PRA, but it did not include a definition for “personal records” under the Act, which is “significant” in light of the affiant’s decision “to include caselaw regarding the NDI [national defense information] element [in 18 U.S.C. § 793(e)]” [ECF No. 566 p. 9 (referencing ECF No. 566-2 p. 27 ¶ 60 & n.2)]. As with the earlier items in the Franks request, the Motion fails to explain how inclusion of more legal provisions or supporting caselaw on a contested legal question such as the applicability of the Presidential Records Act would have defeated probable cause given the content of the affidavit. Nor does the Motion offer legal authority to suggest that inclusion of further discussion in the affidavit of a potential affirmative defense was legally required to be included as a matter of the Fourth Amendment.

But it did have to do with whether the particularity of Attachment B of the warrant was sufficient, which question she will hold — you guessed it — a hearing on!

To be sure, the Special Counsel raises compelling arguments that Attachment B satisfies the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement given its reference to “classification markings” and “classified material” in certain subparagraphs of that document [see ECF No. 567]. But the Court determines that some of the terms in that document (e.g., “national defense information” and “Presidential Records”), do not carry “generally understood meaning[s]” such that a law enforcement agent, without further clarification, would have known to identify such material as “seizable” property pursuant to Attachment B. Wuagneux, 683 F.2d at 1350; [see ECF Nos. 325, 377, 398, 402, 444 (briefing and argument on the term “national defense information”)].6 This argument also relates to Defendant Trump’s claim that searching agents had impermissible discretion in executing the search because of the ambiguity of “certain terms on the illustrative list in the warrant’s subparagraphs” [ECF No. 566 p. 13]. Under these circumstances, even accepting the need for practical flexibility in weighing particularity challenges, the Court is satisfied that further factual development is warranted related to Defendant Trump’s particularity challenge as to Attachment B. 7

This is yet another attempt, by Cannon, to undermine what really are accepted definitions, because it hurts her feelings that she ruled differently in September 2022 and the 11th Circuit reversed her, soundly.

Put another way, though, Judge Cannon is making the argument that FBI agents can’t distinguish between golf balls and documents about nuclear weapons — a distinction that agents who conducted the search seem to have had no problem with. To prove that this is a problem, you would need to prove that any single box was seized with nothing that was obviously covered by the Presidential Records Act.

The part of this order that got far more attention than it merits, however, is that Judge Cannon also granted Trump another hearing on whether Beryl Howell ruled that Trump’s efforts to get Evan Corcoran to conduct an inadequate search merited a crime-fraud exception.

Much of that part of the decision is whiny insistence from Judge Cannon has the authority to revisit Judge Howell’s decision. She does!

Where it gets hysterical is where, almost a year of time-wasting after the indictment, Cannon tries to deny this is not about resource and time wasting.

This is not to say that the necessary evidentiary suppression hearing will devolve into a “mini trial,” as the Special Counsel suggests. The concern about crime-fraud “mini-trials” has been expressed by courts in the grand jury context, e.g., In re Grand Jury Investigation, 842 F.2d at 1226, and it makes sense that such a concern reasonably would apply in the post-indictment context, too, at least in a general way. But there is a difference between a resource-wasting and delay-producing “mini-trial,” on the one hand, and an evidentiary hearing geared to adjudicating the contested factual and legal issues on a given pre-trial motion to suppress, on the other. More practically, the parties can meaningfully confer beforehand on the scope and timing of the hearing, raising appropriate objections with the Court as necessary; the parties can (and will) file exhibit and witness lists as is customary in federal criminal suppression litigation; and the Special Counsel can request the Court to impose reasonable limitations on the evidence produced to ensure efficiency and control. So too, for example, would it be appropriate to submit as an exhibit to the hearing the transcript of the District of Columbia grand jury proceeding (not yet received by this Court); any attachments already filed in connection with the Motion in this Court or in the grand jury proceeding; and any evidence submitted for review by the court that oversaw the grand jury proceeding (it appears no such exhibits were presented, although the matter is unclear).5 But it is an evidentiary hearing nonetheless, and it is before this Court—in this post-indictment context— to make factual findings on contested questions pertinent to the second prong of the crime-fraud exception.

Again, treating this as a serious legal opinion is a category error.

Aileen Cannon is sitting in her little court room in Fort Pierce denying the danger of Donald Trump — whether it involves storing nuclear documents under a Christmas pillow or whether it involves disseminating false claims about the FBI to people bound to respond with violence — all the while whining that her time-wasting is valuable.

Catalog of all the reasons Donald Trump is a menace

Exhibit No. 1: The Statements Giving Rise to the Motion to Modify Release Conditions— Trump’s Statements Alleging a Plan by the FBI to Kill Him and His Family in Connection with the August 8, 2022 Search of Mar-a-Lago


A. Trump Truth Social Post (May 21, 2024) [ECF No. 592-1]

B. Trump Fundraising Email (May 23, 2024) [ECF No. 592-2]

C. Trump Truth Social Post (May 23, 2024) [ECF No. 592-3]

D. Trump Truth Social Repost (May 24, 2024) [cited in ECF No. 592 at 7 n.3]

E. Trump Truth Social Post (May 25, 2024) [ECF No. 592-5]

Exhibit No. 2: Examples of Trump’s Surrogates Amplifying His Statements Alleging an FBI Plan to Kill Him


A. @patriottakes X Post Embedding Stephen Bannon Podcast Excerpt (May 21, 2024) [ECF No. 592-4]

B. @MZHemingway X Post (May 21, 2024)

Exhibit No. 3: Examples of Trump’s Statements Regarding the FBI


A. Trump Statement Regarding the Execution of the Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant (Aug. 8, 2022) [ECF No. 638-3]

B. Select Trump Truth Social Posts Regarding the FBI (Aug. 9, 2022 to June 9, 2023)

Exhibit No. 4: Examples of Threats Against the FBI Following Trump’s Statements


A. Select Ricky Shiffer Truth Social Posts (Aug. 9 to Aug. 11, 2022) [ECF No. 638-4]

B. In re: Search of Information Associated with Truth Social Profile with Username @rickywshiffer or Ricky Shiffer That is Stored at Premises Controlled by Truth Social, No. 1:22-mj-481 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 12, 2022; unsealed June 20, 2024) (Search Warrant Application) [ECF No. 638-1]

C. FBI Cincinnati Statement (Aug. 11, 2022; updated Aug. 12, 2022)

D. In re: Sealed Search Warrant, No. 9:22-mj-08332-BER (S.D. Fla. Aug. 22, 2022) (Order on Motions to Unseal) (highlighting added at 8-9)

E. United States v. Timothy Muller, No. 4:24-mj-479 (N.D. Tex. June 14, 2024) (Criminal Complaint) [ECF No. 638-2]

Exhibit No. 5: Examples of Trump’s Statements Regarding Judges and Court Staff


A. Trump Truth Social Post (Aug. 4, 2023) [ECF No. 638-5] 1

B. Select Trump Truth Social Posts Regarding a United States District Judge for the District of Columbia Presiding Over a Criminal Case in Which Trump is the Defendant (Aug. 6 to Dec. 8, 2023)

C. Select Trump Truth Social Posts Regarding a New York State Supreme Court Justice Presiding Over a Civil Case Involving Trump (Oct. 28, 2022 to Nov. 29, 2023)

D. Select Trump Truth Social Posts Regarding a New York State Supreme Court Justice Presiding Over a Criminal Case in Which Trump is the Defendant (Mar. 26 to Apr. 30, 2024)

Exhibit No. 6: Examples of Threats Against Judges and Court Staff Following Trump’s Statements


A. United States v. Abigail Jo Shry, No. 4:23-cr-413 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 11, 2023) (Criminal Complaint)

B. Alan Feuer, Apparent ‘Swatting’ Incidents Target Judge and Prosecutor in Trump Election Case, N.Y. Times (Jan. 8, 2024)

C. Trump v. Engoron, No. 2023-05859 (N.Y. App. Div. Nov. 22, 2023) (Affirmation in Opposition)

1. Ex. A: State v. Trump, Index No. 452564/2022 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 26, 2023) (10/3/23 Trial Transcript)

2. Ex. B: State v. Trump, Index No. 452564/2022 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 20, 2023) (Other Order—Non-Motion)

3. Ex. C: State v. Trump, Index No. 452564/2022 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 26, 2023) (Other Order—Non-Motion)

4. Ex. D: State v. Trump, Index No. 452564/2022 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nov. 3, 2023) (Supplemental Limited Gag Order)

5. Ex. E: Trump v. Engoron, No. 2023-05859 (N.Y. App. Div. Nov. 22, 2023) (11/21/23 Affidavit of Charles Hollon)

D. Peter Eisler, et al., Trump Blasts His Trial Judges. Then His Fans Call for Violence, Reuters (May 14, 2024)

Exhibit No. 7: Examples of Trump’s Statements Regarding Prosecutors


A. Select Trump Truth Social Posts Regarding the New York District Attorney (Jan. 31 to Mar. 24, 2023)

B. Select Trump Truth Social Posts Regarding the Fulton County District Attorney (Mar. 23 to Aug. 24, 2023)

Exhibit No. 8: Examples of Threats Against Prosecutors Following Trump’s Statements


A. People v. Trump, Ind. No. 71543-23 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 26, 2024) (2/22/24 Affidavit of Nicholas Pistilli)

B. People v. Trump, Ind. No. 71543-23 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 21, 2024) (6/20/24 Affidavit of Nicholas Pistilli)

C. United States v. Craig Deleeuw Robertson, No. 2:23-mj-722 (D. Utah Aug. 8, 2023) (Criminal Complaint)

D. State v. Trump, No. 23SC188947 (Ga. Sup. Ct. Sep. 6, 2023) (9/5/23 Affidavit of Darin Schierbaum)

E. State v. Trump, No. 23SC188947 (Ga. Sup. Ct. Sep. 6, 2023) (9/5/23 Affidavit of Gerald Walsh)

F. United States v. Arthur Ray Hanson, No. 1:23-cr-343 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 25, 2023) (Criminal Indictment) Exhibit

No. 9: Examples of Trump’s Statements Regarding Potential Witnesses in the District of Columbia Case and Threats Following Trump’s Statements


A. United States v. Trump, No. 1:23-cr-257 (D.D.C. Sept. 15, 2023) (Motion to Ensure that Extrajudicial Statements Do Not Prejudice these Proceedings)

B. Trump X Post Regarding a City Election Commissioner (Nov. 20, 2020) and Excerpt of the Commissioner’s Public Testimony Before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (June 13, 2022)2

C. Trump Truth Social Post Regarding a Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Sept. 22, 2023) [ECF No. 638-5]

Exhibit No. 10: Trump’s Awareness of the Link Between His Statements and His Followers’ Responses


A. Select Trump Truth Social Posts (Apr. 4, 2024) [ECF No. 642, GX1]

B. Excerpt of Transcript of CNN’s Town Hall with Former President Donald Trump, CNN (May 11, 2023)

C. Trump Truth Social Post (Apr. 29, 2023) [ECF No. 642, GX2]

Exhibit No. 11: Relevant Court Orders Not Cited in the Government’s Pleadings


A. United States v. Trump, No. 1:23-cr-257, ECF No. 124 (D.D.C. Oct. 29, 2023) (Opinion and Order)

B. People v. Trump, Ind. No. 71543-23 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Mar. 26, 2024) (Decision and Order on People’s Motion for an Order Restricting Extrajudicial Statements)

C. People v. Trump, Ind. No. 71543-23 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Apr. 1, 2024) (Decision and Order on People’s Motion for Clarification or Confirmation of an Order Restricting Extrajudicial Statements)

D. People v. Trump, Ind. No. 71543-23 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 25, 2024) (Decision and Order on Defendant’s Motion to Terminate Order Restricting Extrajudicial Statements)

E. United States v. Taranto, No. 1:23-cr-229, ECF No. 27 (D.D.C. Sep. 12, 2023) (Order of Detention) (highlighting added at 4-6)

23 replies
  1. klynn says:

    “Aileen Cannon is sitting in her little court room in Fort Pierce denying the danger of Donald Trump — whether it involves storing nuclear documents under a Christmas pillow or whether it involves disseminating false claims about the FBI to people bound to respond with violence — all the while whining that her time-wasting is valuable.”

    Now she’s becoming a threat to national security.

  2. Magbeth4 says:

    Cannon reminds me of the perfectionist seamstress who keeps ripping out the seam she just sewed because it’s not perfect.

    Can’t someone of a higher authority take this case away, out of her jurisdiction?

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        My assumption was that “this seam/detail is imperfect” was characterizing Cannon’s explanation for delaying the case, since saying “I want to delay this case” might be more honest, but also more likely to get the case yanked.

  3. Clare Kelly says:

    Thanks for your cogent and timely analysis, as always, and for the much needed chuckle:

    Marcy wrote:
    “Cmon Aileen”.

    Hopefully, I’ll only have that ear worm in my head for a few more minutes.
    (Chart topper, 1982, Dexys Midnight Runners, “Come on Eileen”)

  4. bawiggans says:

    Twice burned by the 11th Circuit, Cannon has skillfully pursued her agenda of delay and tilt without exposing her actions to its judgement again. I credit her with the technical craft to do this and get away with it. She also has that Trumpian meanness that expresses itself in taking every opportunity to rub Jack Smith’s nose in it: our exasperation is the point. Pretty impressive (in a truly dystopian way) for one with so little time on the bench.

    • Sussex Trafalgar says:

      I’m betting there are a handful of skilled and experienced Federalist Society attorneys who communicate regularly with Justices Alito and Thomas and their respective wives, and who are also counseling Judge Cannon on what to do and when with her Trump docs case.

      Up to this point in time, Judge Cannon’s delays match the SCOTUS timeframe/delay for Trump’s absolute immunity claim.

  5. Yogarhythms says:

    Ft Pierce FL Fed Court forever immortalized by the Dexys. By all means “Cmon Aileen”.

  6. James Sterling says:

    Aileen c’mon, c’mon; Aileen c’mon. C’mon Aileen, c’mon Aileen, you’re mucking up my dreams. ( apologies Irene)

  7. aduckisaduck says:

    I appreciate your continuing provision of curated detail from Judge Cannon’s court. I may be missing something, but in your quote from her paperless order allowing supplemental briefs on or before July 5, 2024 she appears to refer to a hearing that hasn’t happened yet:
    “Consistent with the Court’s statements during the July 25, 2024, afternoon hearing 649….”
    I assume that this is a typo, but with Judge Cannon I’m not sure.

  8. GlennDexter says:

    Perhaps Judge Cannon just got her Federalist Society notes mixed up and is to place an order on July 25th, 2024 after a continuance for another hearing. More paperless orders…

  9. Ben_11APR2020_1209h says:

    I posted a link to this post on Facebook and it was removed (with the claim that it was “spam”) by the gatekeepers there.

    Very strange.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We have adopted this minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too short it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. You have also used two other usernames — Mango and Baba — neither of which meet the site’s username minimum standard. Please pick a new name and stick with it. /~Rayne]

  10. Barry Wright says:

    Since Aillen Cannon is not sure how to distinguish Golf Balls from Nuclear Weapons, I decided to write something that would not only remove any confusion regarding the outward appearance of golf balls and nuclear weapons and at the same time explain what they are designed to do.

    Golf balls are used in a sport called golf and a person hits the golf ball with a golf club. If one is good at golf, hitting the golf ball with a golf club might cause it to travel > 200 yards. There are other golf clubs that can be used to hit the golf ball < 200 yards. As I said, it is just a game.

    I will now comment regarding nuclear weapons and what they can do when deployed and detonated.

    For starters, there is an organization known as Physicians for Social Responsibility. They have their own YouTube channel which can be accessed by clicking on the URL above. Their channel contains many interesting videos but we are talking about nuclear weapons here. See for example The Medical consequences of a Nuclear War. This video is largely self explanatory and is only 14 minutes long so I don’t feel I need to say anything further about the medical consequences of the detonation of a nuclear weapon on a city. In addition, there is a video of the detonation of a hydrogen bomb by the Soviet Union.

    FYI: during the 1980s the United States and Soviet Union each possessed over 20,000 nuclear weapons.
    I decided to write an article eventually titled Nuclear Weapons and the United States. I’m only going to quote a paragraph or two from it here.
    McGeorge Bundy was the national security advisor to both JFK and LBJ. Here is what he then had to say:

    In the real world of real political leaders, a decision that would bring even one hydrogen bomb on one city of one’s own country would be recognized in advance as a catastrophic blunder; ten bombs on ten cities would be a disaster beyond history; and a hundred bombs on a hundred cities are unthinkable.

    Another source I studied as an undergraduate student were books by Kenneth Keniston. One of them is titled Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth. He is now deceased but his book is available on Amazon.
    The Second World War ended not with the discovery of the Nazi concentration camps, but with the American use of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This act, which in retrospect hardly seems to have been necessary, helped define the nightmare of the past two decades. Just as the experience of the concentration camp showed that the apparently civilized and “advanced” nations of the world could perform barbarities more cruel than any heretofore imagined, so the atomic bomb and its even more frightening thermonuclear successors provided the concrete imagery for the collective terror of the world. Germany had shown that the civilized nations could do the unthinkable; Hiroshima demonstrated how simple, clean, and easy (from the point of view of the perpetrator) doing the unthinkable could be.

    If this posts ok on Empty Wheel without error I must thank Rayne for being so kind in explaining it to me. Once you reach a certain age, everything seems to become more difficult.

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