Donald Trump speaks from a podium at a rally with a crowd of supporters seen in focus behind him.

Donald Trump Basically Got To Pick His Own Judge in DOJ Lawsuit & It’s Going Very Well for Him

On Monday, a federal judge granted Donald Trump’s request for a third-party “special master” in his lawsuit against the Department of Justice and also temporarily halted the DOJ’s ability to review the trove of documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

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This was, by most accounts, a baffling and totally wrong-headed move. It gives credence to Trump’s overwhelmingly debunked claims that the documents are covered by executive privilege and also gives Trump some say over who gets to oversee the case, since one of the provisions of a special master is that it has to be someone all parties agree to.

The judge’s decision might have been dubious but it was far from surprising—or at least it should have been for anyone who refuses to keep underestimating Trump and his allies.

The judge that was put on the case is Aileen Cannon, who Trump appointed in 2020. And while judges are supposed to be politically neutral, no matter who appointed them, that’s not always the case. And Trump specifically went out of his way during his presidency to appoint judges who were likely to put their loyalty to him over everything else.

And Cannon’s involvement in this case is not a coincidence. The Daily Beast explains that Trump filed his lawsuit in a specific small district, clearly in an attempt to nab Cannon. It’s not the first time he’s done this, but it is the first time it’s worked. “The strategy is already paying off,” writes Jose Pagliery. He continues:

“This special master opinion is so bad it’s hard to know where to begin… her analysis of standing is terrible. Trump wouldn’t own these docs anyway, so why does he get a Master over them?” tweeted Neal Katyal, a national security law professor who was previously the nation’s top lawyer as the federal government’s solicitor general.

Katyal also criticized the way Cannon didn’t do what was largely considered the right move: sending Trump’s lawsuit back to U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, who approved the search warrant of Mar-a-Lago and already oversaw key elements of this matter.

“She let Trump forum shop for a judge, instead of letting the magistrate judge evaluate these claims. The appearances here are tragic,” Katyal wrote.

Trump spent four years putting every sycophant he could find on federal benches, no matter how unqualified, and now he’s getting to reap the rewards.

(image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.