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Jack Smith Ought To Be ‘Very Worried’ About Trump’s Classified Docs Case: Expert

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


CNN legal analyst Elie Honig delivered some bad news for special counsel Jack Smith in light of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in his classified documents case against former President Donald Trump.

Smith’s remarks came during a segment on the network this month, prompted by a three-page order issued by Cannon, who has faced growing scrutiny from the left over her handling of the case.

In her order, Cannon rebuked Smith in response to a recent filing while also rejecting Trump’s plea to dismiss the case on the basis of protection under the Presidential Records Act.

The Washington Post reported

Even as she ruled against Trump’s motion, Cannon’s three-page order also revealed her displeasure over Smith’s characterization of her order, suggesting this may not be the last such battle in the historic prosecution of a former president and the presumptive GOP presidential candidate.

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CNN host Brianna Keilar asked the former federal prosecutor, “Where does this leave the timeline of this case, Elie?”

“Well, a mess, in short,” he responded. “No way that this case was gonna get tried before the election. And now, I think we have other pending issues.”

Honig pointed out that some legal experts are suggesting that Smith could appeal to the 11th Circuit to request Cannon’s dismissal from the case. In the past, the 11th Circuit has overturned two rulings made by Cannon that were favorable to Trump in this case. However, Honig believes that Cannon’s decision has made it almost impossible for Smith to pursue that option.

“I actually think what the judge did today forecloses that, makes it impossible to do that because the judge said, ‘Well, we’re gonna decide when the trial happens, and maybe it’s something that will go to the jury,'” Honig continued.

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“You really can’t appeal that if you’re Jack Smith. And by the way, Brie, this is why I think Jack Smith is concerned with today’s ruling. Although he won in the sense that the court did not dismiss the charges, if I’m Jack Smith – and I think Smith feels the same way – I’m very worried about this defense going to a jury because it’s confusing, because it’s complicated, because it’s technical. And prosecutors always want to tell a simple, straightforward story. And frankly, defendants want to muck things up,” he added.

“And as much as I think this defense lacks merit, I do think it could confuse a jury in a way that would worry me as a prosecutor,” he said.

Also, in her order, Cannon chastised Smith for seeking jury instructions way too early, “prior to trial, prior to a charge conference, and prior to the presentation of trial defenses and evidence.”

In a related case, another legal expert believes Trump’s presidential immunity case before the Supreme Court is looking good for him.

Writing in The Atlantic, senior editor Ronald Brownstein’s piece “Trump Is Getting What He Wants” concluded that the former president will likely not be tried in federal courts before the November election.

“Five of the Republican-appointed justices, really all of them except Amy Coney Barrett, gave very clear signals that they are going to protect the Republican presidential nominee from a trial before the November election on the charges that this poll and other polls show are the most serious is to the American people,” Brownstein told CNN host Kate Bolduan.

“I mean, in practical terms, at almost any of the rulings that seemed possible out of that hearing are going to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for there to be a trial on whether Trump tried to subvert the last election before he faces voters in the next election,” he added.

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