Jack Smith expresses dissatisfaction with Cannon’s acceptance of ‘inherently flawed’ instructions

Special counsel Jack Smith expressed his frustration with U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, stating that she is lending credibility to a “fundamentally flawed legal premise” put forth by former President Trump. The premise in question is Trump’s claim that the classified documents found in his Florida residence belonged to him personally.

Cannon requested both sides to submit jury instructions that consider Trump’s perspective on the Presidential Records Act (PRA). The PRA outlines the proper handling and archiving of records created during a president’s term.

Legal experts have dismissed Trump’s claim that the 300+ highly classified records found on his property can be considered his personal property. While the law does provide for certain records to be deemed personal property of the president, these experts argue that such classification does not extend to highly classified documents.

Smith’s team contended that accepting Trump’s theory would “distort the trial.”

Prosecutors argue that the distinction made by the PRA between personal and presidential records does not affect whether a former President possessing documents containing national defense information is authorized under the Espionage Act. They assert that the PRA should not be considered in the jury instructions.

According to the existing evidence, it is clear that the PRA should not have any involvement in the trial proceedings.

Prosecutors later emphasized that it would be entirely fictitious to claim that the highly classified documents, which were crafted by individuals from the intelligence community and military and then presented to the President of the United States during his tenure, were solely for private purposes.

Trump is facing charges primarily under the Espionage Act, which makes it illegal to intentionally withhold national defense information. Additionally, he is accused of obstructing justice by attempting to hide the records from authorities when they requested their return.

Former President Donald Trump was indicted by special counsel Jack Smith, who addressed the media on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, at a Department of Justice office in Washington. The event was captured in a photo by J. Scott Applewhite of the Associated Press.

Legal experts were left bewildered by Cannon’s recent instructions, as he asked both parties to consider two scenarios that largely aligned with Trump’s perspective on the PRA. This decision came despite the fact that he had previously disregarded a motion from Trump that sought to dismiss the case based on these very grounds.

The case has been plagued by indecision and a multitude of other motions, resulting in a backlog of issues. This has also affected Cannon’s ability to set a new trial date.

The prosecutors emphasized the urgency of resolving the legal question at hand, stating that it is a matter of law that requires a prompt decision. They argued that deferring a decision on this fundamental legal question would only introduce significant delays into the trial. Therefore, they urged Judge Cannon to rule on the underlying PRA motion before proceeding to jury instructions based on the matter.

In an uncommon move, prosecutors openly challenged the judge’s instructions in their recent filing, displaying their frustration with the sluggish progress of the case.

Smith emphasized the urgency for Cannon to make a prompt decision on the matter, highlighting the potential for pursuing an appeal based on incorrect jury instructions in the future.

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MBS Staff
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