Trump Attorneys Renew Push to Dismiss Classified Documents Charges

Trump Attorneys Renew Push to Dismiss Classified Documents Charges
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Grand Rapids, Mich., on April 2, 2024. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Attorneys for former President Donald Trump and special counsel Jack Smith both submitted arguments to the court on the use of the Presidential Records Acts late April 2, responding to a deadline set by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to file hypothetical jury instructions based on “competing” sets of facts, some of which the attorneys have argued against.

Mr. Smith is prosecuting President Trump on 40 counts related to mishandling classified documents, and last month Judge Cannon held a hearing regarding two motions to dismiss counts 1–32 based on the Presidential Records Act and for constitutional vagueness.

Hours after the hearing, the judge denied the second motion without prejudice, writing that the arguments could be renewed in relation to jury instructions.

The judge soon ordered both parties to respond to a jury instruction “exercise,” as the parties described it, opening the door for the defense to submit their arguments to dismiss in the proper form.


The judge had required the parties to contemplate how the Presidential Records Act should be explained to jurors as it applied to the case.

Prosecutors argued the judge used a “fundamentally flawed legal premise” in the scenarios she presented, and said that the Presidential Records Act should play no role at trial at all.

The defense, including President Trump in many public statements, had repeatedly argued that the Presidential Records Act gave President Trump the right to possess the documents he had.

During the hearing, the judge pushed back on this claim, arguing that the indictment charges President Trump under the Espionage Act, making no mention of the Presidential Records Act. Namely, a document could be designated personal, but still contain highly classified information.

She commented that the argument amounted to asking the court to rule that one law “superseded” the other and criticized the defense for this reasoning.

In an April 2 court filing, the defense argued that the inability of these two laws to be reconciled in these scenarios underscored the “vagueness” of the charges against President Trump, and that they should be dropped.

“As applied to President Trump, § 793(e) is unconstitutionally vague and ‘no law at all,’” the defense argued.

“We therefore renew President Trump’s void-for-vagueness challenge … which the Court denied without prejudice on March 14, 2024, ‘to be raised as appropriate in connection with jury-instruction briefing and/or other appropriate motions,’” the filing reads.

‘Personal’ Documents

The judge had required the parties to grapple with who had the authority to determine whether presidential records were instead “personal,” and whether these documents being both classified and personal would change a jury’s determination of the guilt or innocence of the former president.

The defense argued that neither the court nor jury had the authority to review President Trump’s decision to designate articles as personal, and to allow that would invite a number of constitutional errors.

“To do so would be to ‘hand off the legislature’s responsibility for defining criminal behavior to unelected prosecutors and judges’—as well as to jurors—and to ‘leave people with no sure way to know what consequences will attach to their conduct,’” they argued, citing precedent.

The court must not fashion new, “clearer” laws when a vague one is before them, but instead treat “the law as a nullity,” the filing reads.

They argued that both the indictment and special counsel’s office in arguments have said that President Trump “caused” records to be removed from the White House, in effect conceding that he had the authority to remove them.

The defense noted other civil, but not criminal, cases where courts had to review “guidelines and policy-level applications of PRA,” and argued that the “Biden Administration and NARA never attempted to obtain such civil review, preferring instead to weaponize DOJ and the Special Counsel’s Office in furtherance of the election-interference mission.”

The defense argued that the case should not be presented to a jury, which would then be required to determine whether classified documents were properly classified.

They also argued that the lack of any precedent for the situation President Trump faces under this indictment highlights the motion to dismiss the case based on selective and vindictive prosecution still before the court, requesting a hearing on the matter.

Request for Hearings

The defense proposed hearings for several matters, including the other pending motion to dismiss, and another to require the special counsel to offer evidence that President Trump received the classified documents as part of presidential briefings.

They noted that they also have a motion to dismiss based on presidential immunity before the court, and the issue will be argued before the Supreme Court this month.

“These circumstances further support President Trump’s request that the presidential immunity motion be held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of Trump v. United States,” the filing reads.

The defense stated that if the case is not dismissed before the conclusion of the Supreme Court review, they would request an evidentiary hearing on presidential immunity applied to this case.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.