No Ruling but Heated Disagreements in Trump’s Classified Documents Pretrial Hearing

July 18, 2023

A pre-trial hearing in former President Trump’s classified documents case wrapped Tuesday without a ruling from Judge Aileen Cannon of the U.S. District in Southern Florida.

Cannon put off setting a trial date during the hearing, indicating instead that she would enter a written order “soon.”

According to reporters who were present in the courtroom, Cannon did appear disinclined to grant Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request for a December trial date, stressing the complexity of the case would likely dictate that it not go to trial too quickly. 

According to NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian, a heated discussion broke out between federal prosecutors in the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith and Trump’s lawyers over whether the former President should be treated differently because he is running for reelection. One lead federal prosecutor was reportedly adamant that the Constitution requires Trump be treated like any other criminal defendant.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche countered that this argument was intellectually dishonest, Dilation reported. Blanche said the case is impacted by the fact that it’s the Biden Administration prosecuting the current President’s potential opponent in the upcoming election. Federal prosecutors insisted that claim was false, noting that the reason the special counsel was appointed was to insulate this case from politics. 

In a court filing last Monday, Trump’s attorneys had said a December trial date was too soon, that it would deny them reasonable time to prepare, and further asserted that the court should “postpone any consideration of a new trial date.” The filing made it clear that they opposed any trial that would start during the Presidential election season.

During Tuesday’s hearing Judge Cannon reportedly appeared unsympathetic to the Trump team regarding whether he can receive a fair trial while running for President.

The special counsel’s office had already asked Cannon to delay the trial from her initial date of August 14 to December 11 in order to give both sides more time to prepare.

On June 13, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts brought by a Florida grand jury in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation. The charges include 31 counts for willful retention of national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as one count each of making false statements, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, and a scheme to conceal. 

Previous rulings by Cannon, a Trump appointee, had already slowed the Department of Justice’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents post-Presidency. In December, an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel tossed her decision to appoint a special master to review the hundreds of documents obtained during an FBI raid of Trump’s Florida country club residence, Mar-a-Lago.

PHOTO Source: federal indictment

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