Trump watches as judge in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case says it would be an ‘extraordinary step’ to throw out the charges before trial in high-stakes hearing in Florida

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Written By Maya Cantina
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  • Trump raises fist to supporters as he arrived at federal court in Fort Pierce 

Donald Trump looked on Thursday as the judge in his classified documents case laid out the challenge his team faced in trying to throw out the charges against him.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon did not immediately rule on the former president’s motion to dismiss the case, but said striking down a statute as he had argued would be ‘quite an extraordinary step.’

attorney that striking down a statute — as the defense is seeking — would be “quite an extraordinary step.” But she also pointedly noted to a prosecutor that no former president has ever been charged with mishandling classified documents.

urged a federal judge on Thursday to dismiss the classified documents case against him, arguing the statute that underpins the bulk of the charges is unconstitutionally vague as applied to a former president.

looked on in the courtroom as U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon heard arguments over whether the case should proceed or whether, as

‘s lawyers hope, it is thrown out before ever reaching a jury — a rare action for a judge to take.

Cannon asked probing questions of both sides and didn’t immediately rule on

‘s motion to dismiss the case, which accuses the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee of hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left the White House.

 

Jay Bratt, a prosecutor with special counsel Jack Smith’s team, responded that there has never been another situation “remotely similar to this one.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former President Donald Trump cut a defiant figure Thursday, raising a fist through the window of his armored car as he arrived at a Florida courthouse for the latest hearing in the classified documents case.

He stands accused of hoarding government files at his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left the White House and then obstructing efforts to recover them.

Trump, 77, arrived after a series of legal wins in other cases. On Wednesday, a judge in Georgia threw out six charges in a wide-ranging conspiracy case against Trump and his allies connected to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election result.

And last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado, or any other state, did not have the power to strike him from ballots because of the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Trump arrived at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce shortly before the hearing was due to start in front of U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

Former President Donald Trump arrived at a federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida, Thursday for the latest hearing in the classified documents case

Supporters of former President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives at federal court

Supporters of former President Donald Trump cheer as he arrives at federal court

The hearing will center on interpretations of the Presidential Records Act. Trump’s lawyers say it gave him the authority to designate documents as his personal property and keep them after leaving office.

Special Counsel Jack Smith instead says the charges relate to presidential records and that the act does not apply to the sort of classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago. 

In a filing last week, his team said the act ‘does not exempt Trump from the criminal law, entitle him to unilaterally declare highly classified presidential records to be personal records, or shield him from criminal investigations — let alone allow him to obstruct a federal investigation with impunity.’

Trump’s legal team is hoping that Cannon’s ruling will mean the case is thrown out before it even gets to a jury. 

And she has in the past hinted that his status as a former president.  

This week Trump insisted again that he did nothing wrong.

In an interview with Newsmax, he said the issue was being handled ‘very legally’ before the ‘corrupt’ FBI raided his Florida home in the summer in August 2022.

‘I was dealing with them,’ Trump said. ‘We were dealing fine. And then all of a sudden they raided this house. They raided Mar-a-Lago.’

And he said authorities were operating double standards by not pursuing charges against President Joe Biden, who also kept documents after his term as vice president ended.

One of the vehicles in Trump's motorcade on Thursday morning

One of the vehicles in Trump’s motorcade on Thursday morning

Supporters congregated outside the courthouse on Thursday morning

Supporters congregated outside the courthouse on Thursday morning

Images from inside Mar-a-Lago shows stacks of boxes of classified documents in Trump's shower

Images from inside Mar-a-Lago shows stacks of boxes of classified documents in Trump’s shower 

Former President Donald Trump blasted the federal government's handling of his classified documents case in a Wednesday interview with Newsmax

Former President Donald Trump blasted the federal government’s handling of his classified documents case in a Wednesday interview with Newsmax

‘But they release Biden,’ he raged. 

Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 election on Tuesday.

Latest polls suggest he has a five-point lead over Biden in their rematch of the 2020 election. 

The former president faces 40 felony counts in Florida, accusing him of willfully keeping dozens of classified documents and failing to act on demands that they be returned. 

Prosecutors in recent court filings have stressed the scope of criminal conduct that they say they expect to prove at trial, saying in one that ‘there has never been a case in American history in which a former official has engaged in conduct remotely similar to Trump’s.

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