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 March 20, 2024

Judge Cannon's latest move could be fatal blow to case against Trump

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon's recent actions in Donald Trump's classified documents case have raised eyebrows once again, particularly concerning her approach to jury instructions.

While the topic may seem small, it holds significant weight as these instructions will guide the jury's decision-making process on whether special counsel Jack Smith has successfully proven Trump's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The details

Uncertainties exist over whether a trial will indeed take place, given the delays in setting a trial date.

Cannon's recent move is tied to Trump's assertion under the Presidential Records Act that he could designate certain government records as "personal" and thus remove them from the White House without facing legal repercussions.

Although Cannon could have outright dismissed this claim, she opted to hold a hearing on the matter last week.

The jury instructions

In a subsequent order issued on Monday, Cannon instructed the involved parties to submit proposed jury instructions specifically related to charges of Trump's alleged unlawful retention of national defense information.

The order omitted any mention of obstruction-related counts. Cannon's order outlined two contrasting scenarios for the prosecution and defense to consider in crafting their proposals.

The first scenario permits the jury to assess whether records retained by a former president at the end of their term are considered personal or presidential based on definitions outlined in the Presidential Records Act.

The second scenario argues that a president holds sole authority under the PRA to categorize records during their tenure, with neither the court nor the jury having the jurisdiction to review such categorizations.

A wild journey

Neither scenario aligns with existing legal frameworks, raising concerns over potential confusion among jurors regarding their role. Of the two, the second scenario poses a significant risk of swaying the case in Trump's favor.

The Presidential Records Act does not shield Trump from criminal charges, making Cannon's decision to introduce this issue into the trial seemingly unnecessary.

Trump and Smith have until April 2 to submit their proposed jury instructions. The response from both sides is anticipated, with Trump's legal team likely to offer positive feedback while Smith's team may express concerns.

The recent actions by Cannon and Smith could be a fatal blow to the case against Trump. leading to a potential win for the former president as his legal battles continue.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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