Judge strikes part from Trump indictment in documents case

Former President Donald J. A federal judge on Monday narrowed the classified documents case against Trump, saying prosecutors could not charge him based on an episode in which he allegedly showed a highly sensitive military map to a political adviser months after leaving office.

Judge, Eileen M. Cannon’s decision, Mr. Rather than a major blow to the charges against Trump, it was a swipe at prosecutors working for special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the case. Although Judge Cannon technically removed the incident from the 53-page indictment, prosecutors will be able to introduce the evidence to the jury if the case eventually goes to trial.

Judge Cannon’s alleged assault occurred in August or September 2021 at Mr. During a meeting at Trump’s golf course, lawyers say Mr. His political action group is widely believed to be Susie Wiles, who is now Mr. He is a top adviser to Trump’s campaign.

Prosecutors say Mr Trump told Ms Wiles that the military campaign had not gone well as he showed her the map. The indictment pointed out that he did not have a security clearance or “any need” for classified information related to the campaign at the time.

Chapter on Map, Mr. Trump’s handling of classified material is less central to formal allegations in the case. They focus on his removal from the White House of nearly three dozen documents containing sensitive national security secrets and his continued efforts to prevent the government from retrieving them from his private club and residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

Although Judge Cannon struck the incident about the map from the indictment, Mr. He left untouched a similar allegation that allegedly occurred a few months earlier at Trump’s Bedminster property. In that episode, prosecutors say, the former president showed a secret war plan to a group that came to interview him for a memoir written by his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

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“I could have classified it as president,” said Mr. Trump said about the war plan, according to a recording he made that day. “Now, I can’t, you know. But it’s still a secret.

Judge Cannon could have allowed that charge to remain part of the indictment.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers challenged the inclusion of the map, however, as part of a broader attack on the indictment, saying it was extraneous and irrelevant. They argued that it should never have appeared as part of the charge because Mr. Trump, after leaving the White House, has not been formally charged with misrepresentation by illegally retaining it.

In his ruling, Judge Cannon rejected a request by prosecutors to dismiss the charges altogether. But in the so-called “talking charge” case, Mr. He noted that prosecutors have taken on additional responsibility to indict Trump.

Mr. He said he agreed with Trump’s lawyers. A detailed narrative account of his view of the facts.”

Mr. One of Smith’s top representatives told a hearing last month that Mr. Judge Cannon added that it was “not appropriate” to include the story about the map in the indictment, which he admitted was not directly related to the charges Trump faces. .

During the hearing in federal district court in Fort Pierce, Fla., Deputy Jay I. Bratt told Judge Cannon that prosecutors pointed to the former president’s reckless handling of the incident, not the alleged conduct. Classified material.

Mr. Pratt said it allows prosecutors to tell the jury about “bad acts” a defendant has committed. case.

Mr. Judge Cannon had doubts about Pratt’s argument during the hearing.

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“Do you usually include 404(b) in the indictment?” she asked.

Mr. When Pratt said he had added similar evidence in other indictments, Judge Cannon asked, “Is that correct?”

Judge Cannon left open the possibility that prosecutors could eventually introduce the story about the map to the jury at trial. But they had to get her permission first, and Mr. Trump’s lawyers may oppose the request.

Mr. His decision to attack the episode marks the first time he has retracted allegations against Trump. Through his lawyers, the former president has launched a barrage of attacks against the indictment, and Judge Cannon has dismissed all three of them, including this one.

Before midnight on Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed another motion challenging the indictment. After executing a search warrant at the estate in August 2022, Mr. He accused Smith’s attorneys of failing to properly defend him.

Prosecutors said federal agents who seized the boxes did not maintain the order of the documents in them and did not take photographs that would have been “alternative evidence of the order of documents in each box.”

Also, prosecutors argued that prosecutors misled Judge Cannon on at least two occasions, telling him that “the order of documents in each box is the same” when some boxes actually were not.

Prosecutors have long pointed to the fact that the boxes contained a mix of highly classified material and routine items such as letters and newspaper clippings, evidence that they were haphazardly packed and that Mr. Trump had no idea what was in them. They said the lawyers undermined this protection by allowing them to change the order of the items in some of the boxes.

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“The investigative committee violated President Trump’s due process rights by failing to keep the documents intact and in the same order as those discovered during the investigation,” prosecutors wrote.

In court documents filed last month, prosecutors alleged that some of the boxes contained small items such as index cards, books and stationery. Many boxes are not filled.

Prosecutors also noted that the order of documents in some boxes may have changed during a review conducted by an independent arbitrator months before charges were filed in the case. Mr. The review, requested by Trump himself and ordered by Judge Cannon, was conducted to remove any documents protected by executive privilege.

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