Judge Cannon ordered a Trump hearing to challenge the Mar-a-Lago search

U.S. District Judge Eileen M. Cannon said Thursday that it will hold a hearing with its lawyers to challenge some of the evidence gathered against Donald Trump for mishandling classified documents and thwarting government efforts to retrieve them.

In an 11-page order, the judge said, ​​”further factual development is required” when it comes to Trump’s challenge to a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago — his Florida home and private club. FBI agents raided his home on August 8, 2022, and found 103 classified documents that eventually led to his indictment.

The former president, who ran on the Republican side for President Biden in the November election, It seeks to suppress much of that evidence by arguing that the search warrant was invalid.

Cannon also said that as part of his ruling, Trump’s defense attorneys are entitled to a hearing on whether the prosecutors misappropriated statements from one of Trump’s former attorneys.

Cannon said he would soon issue a separate order on when those issues should be heard in court.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung praised the decision, calling Cannon a “very respected” judge and saying the Justice Department mistreated Trump. “The whole documents case was a political sham from the beginning and it should be thrown out completely,” Cheung said.

At an unrelated news conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland said politics played no role in Justice Department attorneys’ decisions.

“The idea that politics affects our cases – nothing could be further from the truth. We follow the facts, we follow the law… that’s what the judiciary has always done,” he said.

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Trump lawyer Emil Bowe’s testimony this week at the hearing of an FBI agent providing probable cause to search Mar-a-Lago was more vague, specifically using the phrases “national security information” and “presidential records” to describe the category. Documents sought. Cannon found that argument reasonable and sufficient justification for an evidentiary hearing.

Special counsel Jack Smith insisted that no further investigations were necessary in the matter because the search warrant and affidavit were so carefully worded, and Trump was given additional — and highly unusual — consideration to submit a letter from Trump’s lawyer to the magistrate. The judge authorized the search warrant.

Smith argued against the investigation to further explore Trump’s attorney-client privilege claims, seeking to prevent the hearing from using a series of audio notes from Evan Corcoran, who served as Trump’s attorney on the documents matter.

A federal judge in Washington previously ruled that Corcoran’s account could be used as evidence in the case because of a felony-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege, which allows communications made in furtherance of a crime to be used. Cannon said Thursday that he will have to make his own decision as the judge overseeing the indictment in Florida.

He rejected one Trump request in his order: a request for what prosecutors call a Franks hearing, a request about whether an FBI agent made any false statements while swearing out an affidavit for a search warrant. On that score, Cannon ruled that Trump’s lawyers failed to meet the legal standard for making such a claim.

At this week’s trial, prosecutors lost patience Defense arguments and at one point, the judge himself.

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The trial of the classified documents was scheduled to begin last month, but Canon cited a slow pace as the investigations probed. Details about not only how prosecutors and agents prosecuted the case, but also how special counsel were appointed and funded—much to the dismay of Special Counsel Smith and his team.

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