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Judge Cannon extends hearing on Trump’s request to invalidate special counsel’s appointment

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Judge Aileen Cannon is set to hold a hearing on the request made by Donald Trump to declare Jack Smith’s appointment as special counsel invalid. This is a significant move that could potentially veto the authority of the special prosecutor, indicating that Cannon may be more willing than other trial judges to challenge the special counsel’s authority. The hearing, scheduled for June 21, will allow various political partisans and constitutional scholars who are not involved in the case to participate in oral arguments. This development is unexpected and adds a unique twist to the federal criminal national security case against the former president.

While similar challenges to special counsels’ authority have failed in the past, Judge Cannon’s willingness to consider these challenges sets her apart from other federal trial judges who have handled cases where high-profile individuals were targeted by special counsels. Past challenges from the likes of Hunter Biden, Paul Manafort, and Andrew Miller have not been successful, but Cannon’s decision could potentially be different. Her willingness to entertain challenges comes at a time when Republicans are scrutinizing Attorney General Merrick Garland for his use of special counsels in various cases.

The issue before Judge Cannon in the Southern District of Florida federal court is gaining attention and is likely to remain a topic of political debate leading up to the hearing on June 21. Cannon’s approach to the case is distinct from that of other federal judges, as she has taken a slower pace in addressing pre-trial issues raised by Trump and his co-defendants. The case, originally filed by the Justice Department against Trump last June, is still facing several substantive legal questions that have not yet been decided.

One particularly unusual aspect of this case is that Judge Cannon has allowed third-party groups with no affiliation to the criminal case to argue in court as part of the defendants’ legal challenges. This is a departure from standard court practice, where arguments are typically presented by the defendants’ legal teams and Justice Department prosecutors. The decision to allow third parties to argue in court is rare, especially in a situation involving federal trials and appeals.

Despite criticisms from experts like Bradley Moss, who see the allowance of third-party arguments as absurd, Judge Cannon has permitted three groups of lawyers to participate in the upcoming hearing. Two of these groups support Trump’s position to dismiss the case against him, citing various constitutional reasons that question the special counsel’s authority to prosecute. A third group stands with the Department of Justice, advocating for the use of special counsels to be upheld. Former Republican-appointed US attorneys general Edwin Meese and Michael Mukasey are part of the groups advocating in Trump’s favor, bringing their unique insights from their past leadership roles in the Justice Department to the table.

As the hearing approaches, all parties involved will have the opportunity to present their arguments before Judge Cannon. The decision she makes could have far-reaching implications not only for Trump’s case but also for future challenges to special counsels’ authority. The outcome of this hearing will likely set a precedent for how such cases are handled in the future and could impact the relationship between the Executive Branch and special counsels in federal criminal prosecutions.

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