Trump's motion to dismiss trial denied, but legal experts say it was still a win

 April 6, 2024

Recently, former President Donald Trump's critics were thrilled that a judge denied his motion to have the classified documents case dismissed. 

However, according to The Blaze, some legal experts believe it was a legal gift for Trump and his lawyers.

The decision came in the wake of pretrial drama on all sides of the classified documents case. Judge Aileen Cannon was scorched recently by Special Counsel Jack Smith regarding two sets of jury instructions she requested, and many legal experts said the instructions were bizarre and unprecedented.

The instructions included the notion that Trump will be able to use the Presidential Records Act (PRA) in his defense.

What happened?

Judge Cannon made headlines last week after asking the prosecution and Trump's lawyers to prepare two sets of jury instructions regarding the use of the PRA.

Smith and his prosecutors were not happy with that, to say the least, and called Trump's potential use of that defense "pure fiction."

The Blaze noted:

Smith argued that "both scenarios rest on an unstated and fundamentally flawed legal premise," arguing the "PRA should not play any role at trial at all." To allow the defense into trial, Smith claimed, would "distort the trial."

Smith was so triggered by the idea -- or perhaps threatened is a better word -- that he threatened to seek pretrial appellate review regarding the potential use of the PRA defense, which was described as an "unusual" move.

The Blaze added:

To be clear, we do not yet know if Cannon will allow Trump's attorneys to use the PRA defense at trial. Her request for potential jury instructions merely shows that she is considering how, if at all, it may fit into the trial.

Smith has demanded to know immediately if she will allow Trump to use the PRA defense, as it would obviously have massive implications for Smith's prosecution.

Judge Cannon fires back

Smith's demands, and his words, didn't sit well with Judge Cannon, and after dismissing Trump's motion to dismiss the trial completely, she offered her opinion on Smith's demands, calling them "unprecedented and unjust."

"The Court's Order soliciting preliminary draft instructions on certain counts should not be misconstrued as declaring a final definition on any essential element or asserted defense in this case. 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," the judge wrote.

Legal experts now believe that leaves the door open for Trump's lawyers to use PRA in his defense, which would be a game-changer.

"Instead of the judge saying, 'OK of course, [Trump's argument is] ludicrous.' She just said, 'I'm not deciding that pretrial. I might let that happen during the trial and maybe that's what I'll decide — in the midst of the trial. Now I'll actually say, "Oh, those are your personal documents. I issue a judgment for acquittal."' That's called Rule 29," law professor Ryan Goodman said.

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