In her ongoing effort to protect Trump and whatever promotion he's promised her, Judge Aileen "Loose" Cannon overrode the direction of Judge Raymond Dearie that ordered Trump's lawyers to list which documents they contend the FBI planted in their Mar-A-Lago search.
Lawrence O'Donnell had on former FBI general counsel and ex-U.S. attorney Andrew Weissmann to unpack the whole mess.
"I go back to the conversation that you and I had when I asked you might Donald Trump be able to use the Fifth amendment in answer to Judge Dearie's question, 'Identify for me what you think the FBI planted at your home?' You said it may be possible to use the Fifth amendment there. The more I think about that, the more I think Judge Cannon may be right here in protecting future criminal defendant Trump's rights in this case and it might be a cleaner case that way, especially if it ever ended up in an appeals court on criminal appeal. Would you want the underpinnings of Donald Trump's right to a defense in any way undermined by the special master process? Professor, how am I doing?"
"Well, first let me say that today was an interesting day because we had two women in Trumpland who are equally untethered to the facts in the law," Weissmann said.
"One was Ginni Thomas, who you talked to Adam Schiff about, and now we are talking about Aileen Cannon. I give you an A on the first part of your answer, which is, does this really matter in terms of keeping your eye on the prize, which is the criminal investigation and the really important national security review. I completely agree agree with you that it's important for people not to view this as having any real effect on that. It can around the margins, but not the core. This isn't something the Department of Justice is going to be freaking out about.
"Where you are wrong is when I said that Donald Trump could assert the Fifth amendment in the civil proceeding. That is true but there are consequences in a civil proceeding if you assert the Fifth amendment."
He cited Letitia James' case, where Trump asserted the Fifth, as an example.
"But because this is a civil case, like Judge Dearie said in the very first hearing that he held, you can't eat your cake and still have it remain. So if you don't want to say anything, if you don't want to assert anything about these documents, that's fine but there are consequences because the judgment -- government has put in prima facie evidence. So I don't need any more proof and if you are not going to speak up, I'm just going to rule on what is here.
"And the final piece, which is just an example of how tawdry Judge Cannon's ruling is. The way she has treated a respected, far more experienced Article Three judge who was selected by her and Donald Trump as the special master, is really beyond the pale.
"It just shows that she is so unfit to be sitting on the bench. We already know from the 11th Circuit that her decision was wrong one side and up and down the other. But now she is really proved that she's just not showing any normal signs of decency to a fellow Article Three judge who is so much so much more esteemed and experienced with no deference at all when he is doing exactly what she said he should've been doing," he said.
"I can surmise what he might be thinking right now, which is no good deed goes unpunished. This is not something he was looking to do. I'm sure he did this out of a sense of duty and obligation. It's an unusual position for an esteemed Article Three judge to be doing this for a junior Article Three judge, but I think he probably felt that it was something the nation called on him to do and he should do it. But to be treated like this is -- I think it's not going to affect him, in that he will still do his duty, but to say it is unfortunate is an understatement."