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Aileen Cannon, Trump-appointed judge, assigned initially to oversee documents case

Special Report: Trump federal indictment unsealed
Trump federal indictment unsealed in classified documents case 19:09

Washington — A federal district judge in South Florida appointed by former President Donald Trump appears to have been assigned for now to oversee his criminal case involving his handling of sensitive government documents, CBS News confirmed.

The summons sent to Trump on Thursday notifying him of the indictment lists U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, whose chambers are in Fort Pierce, Florida, as the judge assigned to preside over at least the initial proceeding, a source familiar with the matter told CBS News. Trump is slated to appear in federal district court in Miami on June 13 for his arraignment.

It's unclear whether Cannon will remain the presiding judge for later stages in the case. ABC News was first to report her assignment.

Appointed to the federal bench by Trump in 2020, Cannon was involved in stages of the legal wrangling last year that stemmed from the FBI's execution of a court-authorized search warrant at Trump's South Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago. In that search, federal investigators seized 33 boxes of material from the property, 13 of which contained roughly 100 documents bearing classification markings.

Trump filed a lawsuit in federal court requesting the appointment of a special master, or independent third party, to review the records recovered by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, and Cannon presided over the dispute.

The judge granted Trump's request for a special master and ordered the Justice Department to temporarily stop using the seized materials for its investigation pending completion of the special master's review.

But her ruling was widely criticized by legal experts and upon appeal by the Justice Department, reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in a unanimous ruling. The three-judge panel that reviewed Cannon's decision included two appointed by Trump, Judges Britt Grant and Andrew Beshear.

In an earlier stage of the fight over the special master, during which federal prosecutors sought access only to the batch of 103 documents marked classified, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Trump for the special master to have access to the sensitive records. 

Trump was indicted Thursday on charges involving  the retention of national defense information, conspiracy and obstruction.

The former president has denied wrongdoing, claiming he is being unfairly targeted by the Biden administration in an effort to thwart his bid for the White House in 2024. He announced changes to his legal team on Friday and will now be represented by Todd Blanche, a former federal prosecutor. Lawyers Jim Trusty and John Rowley said in a joint statement that they resigned.

"It has been an honor to have spent the last year defending him, and we know he will be vindicated in his battle against the Biden Administration's partisan weaponization of the American justice system," Trusty and Rowley said. "Now that the case has been filed in Miami, this is a logical moment for us to step aside and let others carry the cases through to completion."

Trusty, Rowley and Lindsey Halligan, also on Trump's legal team, met with Justice Department officials on Monday to discuss the investigation into the former president. Halligan told CBS News she is still representing Trump.

Arden Farhi contributed to this report

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