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Judge denies Trump’s bid to have classified documents case tossed based on Presidential Records Act

todayApril 4, 2024

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(MIAMI) — A federal judge has denied former President Donald Trump’s attempt to have his classified documents case dismissed based on the Presidential Records Act.

Trump’s attorneys had argued, as part of four motions to dismiss, that Trump should have been able to have custody of the documents in question, even after he was president, due to the Presidential Records Act.

Judge Aileen Cannon last month denied another of Trump’s motions seeking to dismiss the case based on unconstitutional vagueness.

The former president has also sought dismissal on the grounds of presidential immunity, and on claims that Jack Smith’s appointment as special counsel was unlawful.

In her order Thursday, Judge Cannon also took a swipe at the special counsel over his filing late Tuesday that urged her to to reverse course on proposed jury instructions.

Smith, in Tuesday’s filing, urged Cannon to reverse course on entertaining the idea that Trump had any personal ownership over the classified materials he has been charged with unlawfully possessing.

Judge Cannon said she is declining Smith’s demand that she state her position over whether the Presidential Records Act will play any role in jury instructions, calling it “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,” Cannon wrote. “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 also brushed off Smith’s suggestion he could seek intervention by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to order her to clarify her position, writing, “As always any party remains free to avail itself of whatever appellate options it sees fit to invoke, as permitted by law.”

Trump pleaded not guilty last June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials, after prosecutors said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation’s defense capabilities, and took steps to thwart the government’s efforts to get the documents back.

Trump has denied all charges and denounced the probe as a political witch hunt.

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