Fact Check: Judge Aileen Cannon NOT Photographed In Full MAGA Regalia At Trump Campaign Rally

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Judge Aileen Cannon NOT Photographed In Full MAGA Regalia At Trump Campaign Rally Not The Same

Did Judge Aileen Cannon, who was assigned to the Donald Trump documents case, appear at a September 3, 2022, political rally for the former president in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania? No, that's not true: There's no evidence to suggest she was at the event but a glib caption for a picture used in a Slate article about Trump and his judicial appointees may have caused the confusion.

The claim appeared in a post on Twitter (archived here) published on June 9, 2023. It said:

This is Judge Aileen Cannon who's been assigned to the Trump espionage case. I'm sure she'll be very impartial.

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

maga rally woman.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Jun 13 16:22:03 2023 UTC)

Confusing caption

The photo of the unidentified woman wearing a red, white and blue Team Trump cowboy hat is a cropped version of a Getty Images picture that's available for purchase and has been used by The Washington Post, Discourse magazine and Frontline.

But it was a caption used with the photograph for a Slate article, "The Solution to the Trump Judge Problem Nobody Wants to Talk About," that appears to have caused the confusion. The initial version of the story published on September 6, 2022, came with this caption below the picture:

Trump rally goers, or members of the judiciary? It's hard to say.

This is how the image with the original caption looked on the day it was published, as captured by the Internet Archive:

Slate original.png

(Source: Slate screenshot taken on Tue Jun 13 20:57:49 2023 UTC)

But by June 13, 2023, the Slate caption had been shortened to "Trump rallygoers." This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Newer Slate caption.png

(Source: Slate screenshot taken on Tue Jun 13 21:29:57 2023 UTC)

Trump rally

The Getty image from the Trump rally was taken on September 3, 2022, by Spencer Platt. It did not identify either of the women pictured. The caption provided on the Getty website said:

People gather to hear former president Donald Trump speak as he endorses local candidates at the Mohegan Sun Arena on September 03, 2022 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Trump still denies that he lost the election against President Joe Biden and has encouraged his supporters to doubt the election process. Trump has backed Senate candidate Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano.

Code of conduct

At the time the picture was taken, Cannon had been a federal judge for nearly two years, having been confirmed by the Senate in November 2020. She was already involved with the Trump documents case, which began in August 2022. Attending a political rally would have violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which, in part, says:

Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity

(A) General Prohibitions. A judge should not:

(1) act as a leader or hold any office in a political organization;

(2) make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office; or

(3) solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or attend or purchase a ticket for a dinner or other event sponsored by a political organization or candidate.

In short, if Cannon had attended the rally it would have put her career in jeopardy.

Side by side

Comparing the woman in the Getty image (left) with a picture of Cannon (right) leaves little doubt that they are not the same person. The side-by-side images were found in a post on Twitter:


(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Jun 13 22:06:14 2023 UTC)

Another Lead Stories fact check of claims related to Judge Aileen Cannon can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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