Federal Judge Holds The Line Against DOJ Special Counsel Requests In Trump Classified Docs Case

 August 8, 2023

In a brief on Monday, delivering multiple blows to Special Counsel Jack Smith's efforts, the federal judge overseeing the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump, appeared to hold the line with the rule of law in denying the DOJ’s request. Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida, is presiding over the case that stems from a Miami grand jury's June indictment of Trump.

Not only did she deny the Department of Justice's (DOJ) request for sealed filings, striking two from the record, but Cannon also requested additional information from prosecutors about the continued use of an out-of-state grand jury, to investigate the case. In her brief on Monday, Cannon wrote-

"The Special Counsel states in conclusory terms that the supplement should be sealed from public view ‘to comport with grand jury secrecy,’ but the motion for leave and the supplement plainly fail to satisfy the burden of establishing a sufficient legal or factual basis to warrant sealing the motion and supplement,"…she continued…”

"Among other topics as raised in the Motion, the response shall address the legal propriety of using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the instant indicted matter in this district,"

-Judge Aileen Cannon, Southern District of Florida,

Reportedly, her filing Monday, came in response to the special counsel's request for a hearing to examine defense attorney Stanley Woodward's potential conflicts of interest. Apparently, Woodward, who represents Waltine Nauta, a Trump aide who is listed as a co-defendant in the case, also represents three individuals who may be called to testify in the case. Evidently, the Special Council wants to preclude him from representation on the grounds of conflict of interest.

Charged with six counts that include conspiracy to obstruct justice, Nauta also has pled not guilty. A third defendant, Carlos De Oliveira, a property manager at Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is accused by the special counsel of working with Trump to hide security footage.

In her brief, Cannon gave counsel for Nauta until Aug. 17 to file a response to the motion for a hearing. She also gave prosecutors until Aug. 22 to file a brief in support of the hearing. This latest action in the case, comes about nine months before the scheduled trial date which she formerly set for May 20, 2024.

Facing 37 counts, Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is accused of conspiracy to obstruct justice, willful retention of national defense information and making false statements.

This is all despite the fact that he, as a former President, is entitled by law, to take and retain documents of his choosing, and declassify said documents as he so deems. Moreover, Trump and his attorney’s had been working with authorities had been working with government authorities on an ongoing basis when his home was raided by the FBI.

In indicting Trump, Special Council Jack Smith said on June 9-

"Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice. And our nation’s commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world,". "We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone. Applying those laws, collecting facts, that’s what determines the outcome of an investigation, nothing more, nothing less." …and…

"The prosecutors in my office are among the most talented and experienced in the Department of Justice,"… "They have investigated this case, hewing to the highest ethical standards. And they will continue to do so as this case proceeds."

-Special Council Jack Smith

It would seem that Cannon, a Trump nominee herself, is taking a stand up-front for the rule of law in setting the bar rightfully where it needs to be. If "Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice.” as Smith says, then he won’t mind submitting himself to it either. It will be interesting to see exactly how he fairs under the rule as it is applied by Cannon. She seems to be setting the standard high right from the start. What a refreshing concept – a fair trial.

"The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law."…and…

"The world no longer has a choice between force and law; if civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law."

-Dwight D. Eisenhower
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