Judge in classified documents case will hear Trump motions to dismiss next week

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will hear arguments on two of Donald Trump’s motions to dismiss the classified documents case against him in Florida, according to a new order issued Thursday.

At a hearing on March 14, Trump’s legal team and prosecutors for the special counsel will have the opportunity to argue their positions on whether some or all of the charges against Trump should be thrown out because of the Presidential Records Act before the case goes to trial. 

The two sides will also discuss a second motion to dismiss the case on the theory that the main statute used against Trump is unconstitutionally vague as it applies to presidents. 

Trump has pressed for the judge to dismiss the charges against him after he was charged with retaining and mishandling classified government documents after leaving office, and resisting the government’s efforts to retrieve them.

classified documents
This image contained in a Department of Justice court filing from August 2022 and redacted by in part by the FBI, shows documents seized during the Aug. 8 FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.AP file

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. on March 14 in Fort Pierce, Fla. 

Special counsel Jack Smith urged Cannon on Thursday to reject Trump’s claims that his presidential records “can be transformed into ‘personal’ records” upon removing them from the White House, according to court records. 

The filing was one of five briefs filed by prosecutors responding to Trump’s motions to dismiss the case, including the former president’s arguments that he is entitled to retain “personal” records under the Presidential Records Act, should be immune from prosecution for removing documents because he was still president at the time, is being selectively prosecuted, and due to the vagueness of the statute used in the charges against him.

Responding to Trump’s “frivolous claim” to dismiss the case on presidential immunity grounds, Smith called on Cannon to deny the motion.

Smith said that adopting Trump’s immunity theory could lead to “sobering” outcomes, warning that under the former president’s position, a president could use the military to murder a political opponent, or “sell classified information to an adversary—and as long as he was not impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, he could act with impunity.”

A finding of “frivolousness” is also merited by Trump’s “transparent and persistent” efforts to delay the case, Smith said.

Trump faces multiple criminal charges in the indictment, including willful retention of national defense information, false statements and representations, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, and corruptly concealing a document. He had pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

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