Trump to attend classified documents hearing to seek dismissal of case

by | Mar 14, 2024

President Trump is expected to be present in the courtroom on Thursday as his attorneys argue for the dismissal of his federal classified documents case.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon scheduled the hearing in Florida, to consider two of Trump's motions to dismiss the case. Trump's attorneys claim the dismissal is warranted due to special counsel Jack Smith's allegedly vague use of the Espionage Act and his application of the Presidential Records Act. In response, Smith argues that Trump's motions to dismiss reflect his belief that he is above the law.

Alongside Trump, his co-defendants in the case, aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira, are also expected to attend the hearing.

During Thursday's hearing, the first motion to dismiss to be considered by Judge Cannon pertains to a law that originated from another historical moment when a president faced the prospect of criminal charges.

Enacted in the years following the Watergate scandal, the 1978 Presidential Records Act governs the ownership and preservation of presidential records.

Trump's lawyers argue that this law conferred on him the power to designate the documents at issue as personal, thus making his retention of the documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate lawful.

Defense lawyers have further argued that the law does not allow for criminal charges, asserting that Trump had the ultimate authority over the handling of presidential records, rather than officials at the National Archives, where presidential records are typically stored after the president leaves office.

In his filing, Smith countered this argument by asserting that the records at the core of the case are unequivocally presidential records, not Trump's personal records. He contends that Trump is attempting to argue that the law does not apply to him.

Defense lawyers have additionally contended that the section of the Espionage Act pertaining to the retention of defense materials is unconstitutionally vague when applied to President Trump. Defense lawyers argued that charging Trump with this law violates due process principles and raises separation-of-powers concerns regarding the vagueness doctrine.

Citing portions of special counsel Robert Hur's report on President Joe Biden's retention of classified documents, for which Biden faced no charges, defense lawyers argued that penalizing Trump for retaining documents constitutes selective and vindictive prosecution.

The trial is currently set to commence in mid-May, but a recent hearing before Judge Cannon discussed the possibility of rescheduling it to a later date. Smith's team suggested July 8 as an alternative, while Trump's lawyers advocated for a date after the 2024 presidential election.

Judge Cannon did not make any formal changes to the trial's start date, which remains scheduled for May 20.

The judge emphasized that there is much preparatory work to be done before the trial begins. It's uncertain whether Judge Cannon will address the trial date during Thursday's hearing.

Source: ABC News



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