Special counsel pushes back at Judge Cannon in classified documents case, claims...

Published: 2 months ago

Updated: 2 months ago

Reading time: 3 minutes

Judge Aileen Cannon asked special counsel and Trump to file hypothetical jury instructions in the classified documents case by Tuesday.

Special Counsel Urges Exclusion of Presidential Recordkeeping Law from Jury Instructions

The special counsel, Jack Smith, has urged a federal judge to exclude a presidential recordkeeping law from instructions provided to the jury in the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump. This request was made in court documents filed by Smith's team late Tuesday.

Key Points:

- Prosecutors warned that including the law in the instructions risked jeopardizing the proceedings and indicated they would appeal the judge's decision if she ruled against them.
- U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, overseeing the case in Florida, requested Smith's and Trump's legal teams to file jury instructions based on two hypothetical scenarios related to the Presidential Records Act (PRA).
- Federal prosecutors rejected both proposals and argued that the PRA should not play any role at trial, as Trump's alleged mishandling of classified records occurred after his presidency ended.
- The special counsel charged Trump in a 40-count indictment that includes 32 alleged violations of a national security law related to mishandling national defense information and engaging in an obstruction scheme.

Proposed Jury Instructions and Legal Arguments

- Smith's team suggested that jurors should only have to determine three elements of the case, while Trump's legal team argued that Trump was authorized to access the classified records during his presidency.
- The former president's legal team contended that the PRA granted Trump "unreviewable discretion" over classified records, while Smith's team asserted that Trump was not authorized to possess classified records at all.
- Trump's lawyers reiterated their contention that the former president was shielded from prosecution under the PRA, while the federal probe into Trump's handling of classified records followed a months-long effort by federal officials to collect what they said were missing documents.

Legal Disputes and Trial Proceedings

- The judge has yet to set a trial date in the case, and various motions, including those related to protected witness names, remain unresolved.
- Trump originally argued that a trial should not go forward before the fall election, but conceded that August would be feasible, should the judge decide to proceed. The special counsel pushed for the trial to begin in July.


The legal dispute surrounding the inclusion of the Presidential Records Act in jury instructions reflects the complex nature of the case against former President Donald Trump. As the proceedings continue, the decisions made by the judge will significantly impact the direction and timeline of the trial.


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