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Judge Gives Trump Bad News

On Thursday, a judge dismissed Donald Trump’s request to drop a lawsuit accusing him of mishandling classified materials, refuting his claim that these documents were personal under the Presidential Records Act (PRA).

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon clarified that the charges against Trump do not invoke the PRA to define any legal offense. She stated that the PRA does not offer grounds for dismissal before trial, though it might be considered during the trial proceedings.

During the legal discourse, Judge Cannon requested both parties to consider in their jury instructions whether the disputed national security documents could be deemed personal, a point special counsel Jack Smith’s team labeled as inherently flawed. Cannon defended her request for draft instructions as an earnest effort to navigate the complexities of the case and the legal positions presented, anticipating the jury’s decision.

The PRA mandates the return of presidential records after a term ends, distinguishing between official records and personal ones, the latter including intimate details like diaries and medical records.

Smith’s team criticized the notion of broadening the PRA’s scope to cover Trump’s defense, arguing that it would misleadingly validate his defense to the jury. They contended that Trump’s reliance on the PRA was an unfounded, retrospective justification lacking factual basis or any presidential action during his term to classify the implicated documents as personal.

This request for jury instructions on Trump’s expansive interpretation of the PRA was unexpected, especially following a session where Judge Cannon appeared doubtful of the defense’s arguments. With the trial’s commencement still unsettled and previously slated for May 20, Cannon has indicated potential delays and sought alternative dates from both sides.

In this classified documents case, Trump is charged with several offenses, including illegal retention of national defense information, making false statements, obstructing justice, and concealing documents. He has denied all charges.

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