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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Judge strikes claim in Mar-a-Lago indictment but won’t dismiss charges

U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon criticized the special counsel for including unnecessary details in a "speaking indictment" filed against Donald Trump.

(CN) — A federal judge Monday limited the scope of Donald Trump's indictment in the classified documents case but rejected arguments for dismissing charges.

U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon struck one paragraph from the indictment that accused Trump of showing a sensitive military map to a political advisor at the former president's golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Cannon wrote in a 14-page order that the meeting, which took place in August or September 2021, was not tied to any specific offense in the 52-count indictment. Therefore, it was unnecessary to supporting the charges at this stage of the case.

The Trump appointee criticized special counsel Jack Smith for using a “speaking indictment,” a type of indictment that uses a narrative to outline the offenses, to charge the former president with mishandling classified documents.

She wrote that details in the indictment were “legally unnecessary" and distracted from the document's purpose — apprising the defendant of his charges so he could prepare a defense.

Cannon declined to dismiss any charges outright, however, determining that Trump's defense failed to prove details contained in the indictment were "flatly irrelevant or prejudicial."

The judge’s decision represented another failed attempt by attorneys representing Trump and two of his employees, Carlos De Oliveira and Walt Nauta, to dismantle the historic case.

But the defense team’s legal attacks have slowed the proceedings to a crawl while likely delaying a trial until after the presidential election, when the presumptive Republican nominee could win reelection and quash the case.

Cannon has so far denied motions to dismiss charges based on immunity claims, unconstitutional vagueness and pleading deficiencies, but the criminal docket continues to balloon.

Late Monday, Trump’s attorneys filed a new motion to dismiss the case. Another late-night motion sought more time to disclose what experts the defense may call to testify at trial.

On Tuesday, Cannon agreed to extend the disclosure deadline until July 8.

In the 27-page motion to dismiss, the legal team accuses federal agents of failing to preserve the order of documents found in banker boxes during the search of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.

Personal items were mixed with confidential documents in the boxes, they assert, which may suggest harried third-party movers had taken the documents from the White House without his knowledge.

The attorneys accused federal prosecutors of twice misrepresenting to the judge that the documents remained in their original order before admitting last month that was actually not the case.

Prosecutors acknowledged in a May 3 court filing that the materials were not in their original order in some of the boxes. Documents may have been rearranged when they were digitally scanned, prosecutors wrote, while smaller items could have shifted during transportation.

Cannon will hear a challenge June 21 at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida, to Smith’s appointment to the case. She is also expected to address a proposed gag order for Trump.

Follow @SteveGarrisonPC
Categories / Criminal, Law, National, Politics

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