Former President Donald Trump tried -- and failed -- to get his sprawling lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other assorted political enemies before the same federal judge whose ruling in the Mar-A-Lago documents case has come under intense criticism.
The former president sued his first presidential election rival in March, along with the Democratic National Committee, John Podesta, James Comey and many others, accusing them of conspiring to rig the 2016 election against him -- but his attorney chose to file the case in the same South Florida federal court district where Judge Aileen Cannon sits, reports Politico.
Cannon, a Federalist Society member who was appointed by Trump in 2020, is the only judge in the Fort Pierce division, which is more than an hour's drive away from Trump's home in West Palm Beach, which has its own federal court presided over by two judges who were appointed by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
The lawsuit was assigned to the Clinton-appointed judge Donald Middlebrooks back in West Palm Beach, and his attorneys quickly filed a motion to disqualify him, complaining that his appointment 25 years ago by the lead defendant's husband amounted to "virulent or pervasive" bias against Trump's case.
“Due to the fact that the Defendant, HILLARY CLINTON is being sued by her former opponent for the United States Presidency, an election that she lost, regarding serious allegations on her part, as well as her allies, of engaging in fraudulent and unlawful activities against the Plaintiff, and because her husband nominated Judge Middlebrooks to the Federal Bench, there exists a reasonable basis that Judge Middlebrooks’ impartiality will be questioned,” his lawyers argued.
Those lawyers -- Alina Habba, who also represents Trump in the Mar-A-Lago documents probe and the New York attorney general investigation, and Peter Tickton, Trump’s boarding school roommate and owner of the website legalbrains.com -- failed to persuade Middlebrooks, who cited decades of precedent against executive appointments being grounds for recusal to deny their motion and remain on the case.
That prevented the lawsuit, which many observers have described as a diatribe or even a tantrum, from reaching the court overseen by Cannon, who startled legal experts by granting the former president's request for a special master to sort through the classified documents seized from his home and delaying the Department of Justice investigation and disrupting a review by national security agencies.
Middlebrooks recently removed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein from the racketeering suit, allowing the U.S. government to serve as defendant in their stead, shortly after making similar decisions for Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.