Donald Trump, the New York real estate mobster who fled Gotham City for Florida during his twice-impeached presidency to avoid the arm of justice in the Empire State, needed a corrupt and inexperienced federal judge to stymie the Justice Department’s investigation of his theft of thousands of highly-classified and other official documents from the White House. He found one in Judge Aileen Mercedes Cannon, a right-wing Federalist Society Cuban-American.
Being born in Cali, Colombia, should have been enough to set off alarm bells when Trump nominated her for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in July 2020. Trump was obviously stacking the federal bench with right-wing toadies because he was in the midst of a presidential campaign that polls indicated he would lose to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump would need quite a bit of support from the federal bench for his planned coup in the event of his loss and, in Cannon, he had someone who would do his bidding as far as Florida was concerned.
After U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart approved the August 8 search and seizure by the FBI of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Trump and his minions launched a vicious campaign against the West Palm Beach-based judge. In filing suit for a Special Master to be appointed to hobble the federal investigation of Trump’s violation of three federal laws, including the Espionage Act, Trump’s legal team chose the U.S. Southern District of Florida Division Court in Fort Pierce precisely because they knew Cannon would get the case. Cannon is the only District Court judge who sits in the Fort Pierce Division. It was not the first time Trump had sought Cannon for a case in which he was involved. Earlier this year, when Trump filed suit in the federal court in Fort Pierce against Hillary Clinton, he balked when West Palm Beach Judge Donald Middlebrooks, a Bill Clinton nominee, received the case. Trump failed to have the case moved to Fort Pierce where he knew Cannon would receive jurisdiction. Trump’s “judge shopping” failed in the case of the Clinton suit but succeeded with the Special Master suit. Trump had successfully used judge shopping in the past in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where it was the rule of the day until Chief Judge Charles L. Brieant put an end to the practice in 1987.
Cannon’s decision to obstruct justice in Trump’s theft of national security secrets also led her to issue her Special Master decision on Labor Day, a federal holiday. That decision prevented the Justice Department from filing an immediate appeal with the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta because they were closed.
In the Senate vote to confirm Cannon, 21 Democrats, including then-Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the thankfully always-wary Sheldon Whitehouse, voted to reject her. Six Democrats on the Judiciary Committee also voted to reject Cannon. They were, in addition to Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. As we have now seen with Cannon’s September 5 ruling in favor of Trump that a Special Master must be appointed to comb through the documents and material seized by the FBI on August 8 from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago vipers’ den of corruption, the Senate Democrats who voted to reject Cannon were correct in doing so.
Cannon, who is 41, was born in 1981 in Cali, Colombia. Her mother is Mercedes Cubas and her father is Michael Cannon, a one-time resident of Key West. The first year of the Reagan administration was marked by an increase in “black operations” by U.S. covert operations teams and Washington-sanctioned narco-smugglers all having the same mission: the overthrow of the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Teams of U.S. covert operators, including several Cuban expats living in south Florida, were engaged in “off-the-books” arms, drug, and money laundering operations in Colombia, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands, including Key West. Little is known about Judge Cannon’s mother, Mercedes Cubas, except that she claims to have “run away” from “Communism in Cuba” at the age of 7. So what was she doing in Cali, Colombia at the height of U.S. covert operations in the country?
“Running away from Communism” in Cuba is the same worn-out story thousands of Cuban-Americans tell but in at least two high-profile cases it has been a blatant lie. Florida Senator Marco Rubio makes that claim about his parents. However, they never ran away from “Communism in Cuba” because they arrived in the United States more than two-and-a-half years before Fidel Castro seized power in 1959. The same holds true for Senator Ted Cruz. His father, Rafael B. Cruz, left Cuba on a ferry from Havana to Florida in 1957, two years before Castro took power. So what is the story of Judge Cannon’s mother? Was Michael Cannon in Cali when his daughter was born and, if so, why? Perhaps the Senate Democrats who voted to reject Cannon for the federal bench had information that helped form their negative opinion of Cannon. In light of the judge’s ruling to impede a federal investigation that could cost the lives of U.S. intelligence informants in Colombia, Cuba, and other nations south of the border any derogatory information the Senate Democrats had on Cannon should be made public.
In her application for her judicial appointment to the Senate Judiciary Committee, it could not have been what Cannon provided in the way of information that resulted in 21 nay votes. Cannon was not clear to the Senate about when she first arrived in the United States from Colombia. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke and her law degree from the University of Michigan. She studied abroad for one semester at the University of Seville in Spain. From 2003 to 2005, Cannon worked as a paralegal at the Department of Justice in Washington and clerked at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Des Moines. Cannon had also contributed eighteen articles to south Florida’s Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald. One appears to have bordered on medical quackery territory: the potential health benefits of tomatoes in tumor reduction. One other cause for concern is that Cannon served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida under U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who was partly responsible for the “sweetheart” plea deal underage sex trafficker and one-time Mar-a-Lago member Jeffrey Epstein received in 2007. Acosta became Secretary of Labor under Trump, a position that placed him in charge of investigating sex trafficking.
Cannon married her husband Joshua Lorence in 2008. Lorence, a native of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, has reportedly worked in the wedding event planning field (did any involve Mar-a-Lago perchance?) and for the right-wing evangelical Trinity Broadcasting Network, which has studios in Miami and Orlando and has been plagued by internal homosexual and child sex scandals involving senior executives.
On October 1, 2015, Cannon missed the October 1 deadline for paying her membership dues for the Florida Bar. In 2016, she paid her late fees and was re-admitted. It appears that Cannon violated the South Florida District’s own operating procedures when she accepted Trump’s litigation in the Special Master case. The procedures state: “The assignment schedule shall be designed to prevent any litigant from choosing the Judge to whom an action or proceeding is to be assigned, and all attorneys shall conscientiously refrain from attempting to vary this Local Rule.”
There is another reason why Cannon should have recused herself from a case involving Mar-a-Lago. Although it is not known whether her husband’s wedding event planning business involved Trump’s Palm Beach rental facility, it is known that two of Mar-a-Lago’s most prominent members are former presidents of Cannon’s native Colombia — Medellin cartel-linked Alvaro Uribe, as well as Andres Pastrana. In addition, Jeanette Dousdebes Rubio, the wife of Senator Rubio, who, along with Florida’s Rick Scott, favorably recommended Cannon for her judgeship, is the daughter of Colombian immigrants in south Florida. Ms. Rubio’s mother owns what is described as a “transportation business” in south Florida. The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Panama in Panama City, which has since removed the Trump name from the structure, attracted as condo owners a number of Colombian narcotics smugglers. These dubious connections of Judge Cannon not only suggests her to be a Trump judge-shopping enabler but a dirty judge as well.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).