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Trump Gets Win After Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss Docs Case: Legal Analyst

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


A legal analyst for CNN suggested that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon may have handed former President Donald Trump a win after she rejected on Thursday a motion from his attorneys to dismiss his classified documents case.

“We’ve made the point that the headline seemed that it was a loss for Trump,” host Erin Burnett said. “But when you look underneath it, actually there was a pretty significant victory.”

Analyst Ryan Goodman told host Erin Burnett:

So, his claim is that the classified documents are personal – he could somehow magically make these highly classified documents his own. That’s not what the law says. That’s just ludicrous. So, instead of the judge saying, “Ok, of course that’s ludicrous.” She just said, “I’m not deciding that pretrial. I might let that happen during the trial and maybe that’s what I’ll decide in the midst of the trial. Now, I’ll actually say, ‘Oh, those are your personal documents? I issue a judgment for acquittal.’”

And that’s called Rule 29. She could do it in the middle of the trial and then it’s too late. That is not appealable. So, she’s actually given him kind of a loss here – but not really. I think this is not what Jack Smith wanted to hear. If she had ruled now that these could be his personal documents, then Jack Smith can appeal that and have the 11th Circuit reverse her.

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Meanwhile, another CNN legal expert agreed that Smith should be “very worried” about this particular case.

Analyst Elie Honig’s remarks came after Cannon, who has increasingly come under fire from the left over her handling of the classified documents case, took Smith to task in a three-page order on Thursday over his latest filing.

Per the Washington Post:

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

“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.”

According to Honig, some legal experts have speculated that Smith might appeal to the 11th Circuit to seek Cannon’s removal from the case. The 11th Circuit has previously vacated two Trump-friendly rulings made by Cannon in this case. However, Honig believes that yesterday’s ruling has all but thwarted that possibility.

“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.

“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.

Trump is facing 32 counts of violating the Espionage Act. According to Smith, the charges are related to his alleged possession of government documents and his attempt to obstruct their retrieval. The FBI discovered the material during a search warrant executed at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

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