Trump’s tricky legal maneuver in the Florida case fails, yet he receives an unexpected present from judge

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Florida – Nearly two weeks have passed since Trump was found guilty in New York, and the Florida classified documents case remains the only one in the public’s spotlight. Donald Trump, former president and presumptive Republican nominee, faces 41 counts related to the retention of classified documents and efforts to obstruct the federal investigation. Aileen Cannon, the federal judge presiding over the case appointed on the bench by then-President Trump, has had some pretty strange rulings in favor of the defense that further made this case interesting for legal experts.

Efforts to dismiss Judge Cannon

On May 22, the 11th Circuit Judicial Council, which oversees lower courts in Florida, said that since May 16, 2024, the clerk has received more than 1,000 complaints “that raise allegations that are similar to the allegations raised in previous complaints.” The council ordered the court clerk to stop accepting similar complaints explaining that the effort appeared to be part of an “orchestrated campaign.” Several complaints against Cannon “question the correctness of her rulings or her delays in issuing rulings” in the classified documents case. 11th Circuit Court’s Chief Judge William Pryor dismissed all the complaints.

Judge Cannon rules against Trump

On Monday, Judge Aileen Cannon made a decision regarding former President Donald Trump’s efforts to dismiss several charges against him related to classified documents. She allowed the removal of one section of the charges that mentioned an allegation not formally brought against him but denied the dismissal of the other charges.

The charges stem from accusations that Trump unlawfully kept government documents after his presidency and did not return them when requested, which led to an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Two others, Walt Nauta, Trump’s ex-valet, and Carlos De Oliveira, a former maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago, are also charged in the case alongside Trump.

Trump's attorneys requested the court to drop counts 33 to 41 in the Florida case, but Trump appointed Judge Cannon refused the request
The Justice Department included a photo of documents seized from former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida home in its court filing. Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice

Read also: Former DA, defense attorney predict no jail time for the former president post-conviction in New York

Dismissal efforts

Trump’s attorneys requested the court to drop counts 33 to 41, which relate to obstruction and making false statements, arguing that these charges were problematic due to duplicity. However, Judge Cannon rejected this request, stating that any flaws in the charges could legally be overlooked. She emphasized that there would be no problem with these counts as long as the jury received proper instructions and the verdict forms clearly addressed the specific actions of each defendant involved.

Cannon hands Trump small and unexpected win again

In a slight victory for Trump, Judge Cannon consented to remove a particular paragraph from the extensive 60-page indictment. Trump’s legal team argued that this paragraph was unfair because it included allegations not formally charged in the indictment. The removed section described an incident from August or September 2021, after Trump had left the presidency, involving a meeting at his New Jersey club office with a representative from his political action committee.

Read also: Donald Trump is in trouble in Florida

During this meeting, Trump reportedly discussed an unsuccessful military operation in an unspecified country and showed the representative a classified map related to it. Trump allegedly remarked that he shouldn’t be showing the map and advised the official not to look too closely, as the PAC official did not have the necessary security clearance.

“This is not appropriate,” Cannon wrote in her ruling concerning the paragraph. “Pre-trial notice must be given with supporting reasons justifying a permissible non-propensity use for the allegations.”

Trump's attorneys requested the court to drop counts 33 to 41 in the Florida case, but Trump appointed Judge Cannon refused the request
Former President Donald Trump. Courtesy of Donald J. Trump on Instagram

No impact on the case

The decision made by Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, primarily critiques special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges, rather than significantly impacting the charges against Trump themselves. In her ruling on Monday, Cannon pointed out that the federal prosecutors employed a “speaking indictment” strategy, which incorporates unnecessary details to shape the narrative of their case. This approach was a key point of her criticism.

Read also: Florida GOP member announces intention to draft impeachment resolution against the president

Cannon said that much of the language used in the indictment “is legally unnecessary,” stating there are “risks that can flow from a prosecutor’s decision to include in a charging document an extensive narrative account of his or her view of the facts, especially in cases of significant public interest.”

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