Judge Cannon removes indictment paragraph from classified Trump document

U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon ruled Monday that she would strike a paragraph from the federal indictment against Donald Trump that alleges he mishandled classified documents after leaving the White House and thwarting attempts those responsible for recovering them.

The judge said prosecutors’ inclusion of paragraph 36 — which alleges Trump showed a classified document in September 2021 about a military operation to a person without security clearance — is inappropriate because it is not related to a specific crime that Trump is accused of committing.

Trump is not accused of leaking classified documents to anyone after leaving office. Cannon’s decision suggests that she believes this type of evidence that prosecutors used to establish Trump’s alleged negligence with classified documents would be better presented as evidence at trial — not in the charging document.

The decision has no substantial effect on the case. Cannon wrote in his ruling that if jurors brought the indictment with them to deliberations, they would receive the edited version.

The order to remove the paragraph from the indictment was part of a broader decision by Cannon that rejected a request by Trump and his co-defendants to dismiss obstruction charges related to the case due to ” inability to report an offense and for related reasons”. pleading shortcomings.

The defendants had argued that the indictment was legally insufficient because prosecutors failed to explain in plain language the “distinct violations of federal criminal law” in each charge. They argued that the indictment contained gratuitous remarks and accusations and constituted a political attack on Trump.

Cannon ruled that the indictment and its language were “authorized by law.”

Nonetheless, she chastised prosecutors’ approach to the indictment and wrote that it is confusing and that “much of the language used in the superseding indictment is legally unnecessary to fulfill the function of an indictment.”

Monday’s decision is the latest example of Cannon chastising special counsel Jack Smith for what she sees as deficiencies in his decision-making.

Two weeks ago, she criticized Smith in response to his request to order Trump to stop making inflammatory statements about law enforcement.

Cannon said the emergency request lacked “professional courtesy” because prosecutors did not properly consult with the defense before submitting their request. She also claimed that they had put together important facts about the request in an “editorialized footnote.”

Prosecutors have since refiled the request after speaking more in-depth with Trump’s legal team.

The trial in Florida was supposed to begin in May but has been delayed indefinitely as Cannon slowly works his way through a backlog of pretrial motions.

In late June, Cannon scheduled back-to-back preliminary hearings in his Fort Pierce, Fla., courtroom over a three-day period on some of Trump’s long-running motions to dismiss the case.

She also scheduled a hearing on prosecutors’ request to block Trump from making further allegations falsely suggesting that FBI agents were “complicit in a plot to assassinate him.”

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