Judge in Trump documents case to hear more arguments on dismissing charges

22 May 2024, 14:14

Former President Donald Trump speaks at Manhattan Criminal court
Trump. Picture: PA

The case, among four criminal prosecutions against the former US president, had been set for trial on May 20.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers in the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump are due in court for the first time since the judge indefinitely postponed the trial earlier this month.

The case, among four criminal prosecutions against Trump, had been set for trial on May 20 but US District Judge Aileen Cannon cited numerous issues she has yet to resolve as a basis for cancelling the trial date.

On Wednesday, Judge Cannon was scheduled to hear arguments on a Trump request to dismiss the indictment on grounds that it fails to clearly articulate a crime and instead amounts to “a personal and political attack against President Trump” with a “litany of uncharged grievances both for public and media consumption”.

The indictment against former president Donald Trump
The indictment against former president Donald Trump (Jon Elswick/AP)

Prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team, which brought the case, will argue against that request.

Trump, a Republican, is not expected to be present for the hearing.

The motion is one of several that Trump’s lawyers have filed to dismiss the case, some of which have already been denied.

Also scheduled for Wednesday are arguments by a Trump co-defendant, his valet Walt Nauta, to dismiss charges.

The arguments come one day after a newly unsealed motion reveals that defence lawyers are seeking to exclude evidence from the boxes of records that FBI agents seized during a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach nearly two years ago.

The defence lawyers asserted in the motion that the August 2022 search was unconstitutional and “illegal” and the FBI affidavit filed in justification of it was tainted by misrepresentations.

Mr Smith’s team rejected each of those accusations and defended the investigative approach as “measured” and “graduated”.

It said the search warrant was obtained after investigators collected surveillance footage showing what it said was a concerted effort to conceal the boxes of classified documents inside the property.

“The warrant was supported by a detailed affidavit that established probable cause and did not omit any material information,” prosecutors wrote.

“And the warrant provided ample guidance to the FBI agents who conducted the search. Trump identifies no plausible basis to suppress the fruits of that search.”

The defence motion was filed in February but was made public on Tuesday, along with hundreds of pages of documents from the investigation that were filed to the case docket in Florida.

Those include a previously sealed opinion last year from the then-chief judge of the federal court in Washington, which said that Trump’s lawyers, months after the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, had turned over four additional documents with classification markings that were found in Trump’s bedroom.

The March 2023 opinion from US District Judge Beryl Howell directed a former lead lawyer for Trump in the case to abide by a grand jury subpoena and to turn over materials to investigators, rejecting defence arguments that their cooperation was prohibited by attorney-client privilege and concluding that prosecutors had made a “prima facie” showing that Trump had committed a crime.

Trump, the GOP presumptive presidential nominee for 2024, has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

By Press Association

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