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Judge Cannon considers whether to toss some obstruction charges in Trump classified docs case

From the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, AP

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon and former President Donald Trump.


Special counsel Jack Smith’s allegations that Donald Trump’s close associates obstructed the Justice Department’s investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago will face their first major test in a hearing Friday.

Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the criminal case in a Florida federal court, is pressing defense lawyers and prosecutors in the classified documents case over whether obstruction charges against Trump’s co-defendant , Carlos De Oliveira, should be abandoned.

Although Cannon will not consider any of Trump’s filing requests on Friday, how she responds to her co-defendant’s arguments regarding the obstruction charges will likely determine how the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee moves forward in his defense.

Cannon seemed skeptical of De Oliveira’s argument that an FBI agent asked unclear or irrelevant questions during a voluntary interview, asking his defense attorney John Irving why that argument should not be made to a jury at trial. De Oliveira was accused of lying to investigators about moving boxes containing classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

De Oliveira argues that the obstruction charges against him should be dismissed because he was unaware of the subpoenas issued to Trump for both the classified documents and the surveillance footage of Mar-a -Lago showing the documents moved.

Arguing for the special counsel team, Jay Bratt said prosecutors are not required to demonstrate that De Oliveira knew about the subpoenas or what they demanded. Bratt said prosecutors only need to show he was aware of the federal investigation.

Cannon asked Bratt where in the indictment the special prosecutor alleges De Oliveira had knowledge of the investigation. Bratt responded that they wouldn’t have charged without evidence.

While Trump and his allies have argued that he is being selectively pursued by the Biden administration, Smith and his supporters have argued that the former president’s alleged efforts to obstruct the investigation into classified documents from the Trump’s White House sets this affair apart from other times former presidents have had cases. and vice presidents have been investigated for their handling of sensitive government documents.

Walt Nauta, who works as Trump’s personal valet, and De Oliveira, who worked as a property manager at Mar-a-Lago, are accused of conspiring to help Trump hide documents in the Florida estate after leaving the House White and lying to the FBI. during interviews about their alleged involvement in the movement of the documents.

Trump and his two co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to obstruction, and the former president has pleaded not guilty to crimes related to his alleged mishandling of classified and sensitive government information.

In court filings earlier this year, Nauta and De Oliveira asked Cannon to drop the obstruction charges they faced because, they say, Smith failed to meet his legal burden to prosecute the allegations.

Nauta argued that the criminal charges he faces are too vague. And De Oliveira claimed he had “no idea” that classified documents were in the boxes he allegedly helped move into the club and therefore could not have intentionally tried to prevent investigators to obtain important evidence.

De Oliveira also asked the judge to drop charges against him for allegedly lying to the FBI about moving boxes during a voluntary interview because, he claims, the criminal investigation was not affected by his alleged lies.

Smith’s team, however, said De Oliveira’s arguments about the strength of the government’s case should be left to a jury. As for Nauta’s allegation that the charge is too vague, Smith said the case includes “numerous allegations” about “criminal conduct that Nauta allegedly engaged in.”

In his own interview with the FBI, the transcript of which was released Thursday, Nauta said the transition out of the White House was “literally chaos” and repeatedly claimed he believed Trump was stockpiling press clippings , hairspray, shampoo, photo frames and more. various materials in boxes. Nauta is accused of lying during the interview.

If Cannon rejects their efforts, both co-defendants have asked the judge to order a document called a statement of particulars, in which prosecutors provide detailed descriptions of the offenses they plan to prove at trial.

Smith’s team called the requests “a thinly veiled attempt to get the government to disclose its trial strategy.”

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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