Judge denies Trump's request to dismiss charges in classified documents case

 April 5, 2024

February saw former President Donald Trump seek to have Special Counsel Jack Smith's classified documents case dismissed on the grounds that he was protected by the Presidential Records Act.

Yet as Fox News reported, Judge Aileen Cannon brought down a ruling this week which ended Trump's hopes for dismissal.

Presidential Records Act "does not provide a pre-trial basis to dismiss"

Cannon pointed out how the charges that Trump faces "make no reference to the Presidential Records Act, nor do they rely on that statute for purposes of stating an offense."

The judge further argued on Thursday that the Presidential Records Act "does not provide a pre-trial basis to dismiss."

However, the judge was quick to stress that her order "should not be misconstrued as declaring a final definition on any essential element or asserted defense in this case."

Smith will appeal Smith's order regarding jury instructions

"Nor should it be interpreted as anything other than what it was: a genuine attempt, in the context of the upcoming trial, to better understand the parties’ competing positions and the questions to be submitted to the jury in this complex case of first impression," Cannon continued.

She went on to add that each party in the case is "free to avail itself of whatever appellate options it sees fit to invoke, as permitted by law."

Those words came in response to a filing in which Smith objected to her request that his team and Trump's lawyers each submit sets of hypothetical jury instructions.

According to Fox News, Cannon asked that these proposed instructions cover a scenario in which she accepted Trump's claim that the Presidential Records Act permitted him to keep sensitive material after leaving the White House.

Legal expert thinks Cannon could be removed from case

Smith maintained in a brief that Cannon was working from a "fundamentally flawed legal premise" since the Presidential Records Act (PRA) "should not play any role at trial at all."

"The PRA's distinction between personal and presidential records has no bearing on whether a former President’s possession of documents containing national defense information is authorized under the Espionage Act, and the PRA should play no role in the jury instructions on the elements of Section 793," Fox News quoted the brief as stating.

Smith further added that he is planning to file an appeal should the judge press ahead with her jury instruction order.

Meanwhile, former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb told CNN not only is Smith likely to prevail with an appeal but also suggested that the 11th Circuit may remove her from the case.

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Thomas Jefferson
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