Judge denies Trump’s request to throw out classified documents case | Donald Trump

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s prosecution on charges of retaining classified documents has rejected an effort by his lawyers to throw out the case, indicating that their argument that the law is too vague is a question for a jury at trial.

The two-page ruling from the US district judge Aileen Cannon came on Thursday evening after a daylong hearing in federal court in Fort Pierce, Florida. Throughout the hearing, Cannon expressed reservations about the former president’s complaints against the case.

Trump had asked the judge to dismiss the indictment on several fronts, including one dubious argument that the Espionage Act was “unconstitutionally vague” because it gave insufficient notice of the penalties for a former president retaining classified documents.

The other argument at issue at the hearing was Trump’s contention that the Presidential Records Act meant that, as president, he could convert classified documents into personal records, meaning he was authorized to keep them at his Mar-a-Lago club.

But Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, appeared skeptical of both claims. She did not immediately rule from the bench but issued her decision denying the vagueness argument within hours of the conclusion of the hearing.

The claim based on the Presidential Records Act is widely expected to be denied as well. Classified documents are considered property of the US government and Cannon remarked she found it “difficult to see” how Trump’s argument he turned them into personal documents “gets you to the dismissal of the indictment”.

The rejection marks a setback for Trump even if it was widely expected. Defendants in Espionage Act cases often argue the statute is too vague in motions to dismiss in the hopes that they might have the charges pared down.

Trump has been no exception in submitting his motions to dismiss the indictment, which charged him with retaining national defense information and of obstruction of justice, taking a cards-against-the-wall approach in trying to have Cannon toss the case.

The motions Trump submitted have in large part been a far-fetched effort to avoid accountability for holding onto what prosecutors have identified as materials on US nuclear weapons capabilities, and for Trump’s attempts to thwart the government’s retrieval of the documents including their use of a grand jury subpoena.

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In addition to the vagueness and Presidential Records Act claims, Trump has argued he enjoyed presidential immunity from prosecution because his supposed conversion of classified records to personal records amounted to an official act of his presidency.

Trump’s other filings included one alleging that the appointment of the special counsel Jack Smith was illegal, and one alleging that the charges that he retained nuclear secrets should be thrown out because his “Q” clearance was not formally cancelled until after he was indicted.

Cannon did not indicate at the hearing the other major question before her: when to set a trial date for the classified documents case. At a hearing two weeks ago, she suggested she found unworkable a timetable proposed by prosecutors that culminated in a July trial.

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