May 13, 2024

USA: Federal Judge Postpones Trump Classified Documents Trial Indefinitely After Lead DOJ Prosecutor Admitted FBI Used Props For Infamous “Classified Documents” Photo Taken At Mar-A-Lago

FOX 32 Chicago published May 8, 2024: Donald Trump secures legal victory with postponed trial. Former President Donald Trump got a legal win Wednesday in his classified documents case with a federal judge is postponing the trial indefinitely.
written by Katelyn Polantz, Hannah Rabinowitz, Holmes Lybrand and Tierney Sneed
Tuesday May 7, 2024

Judge Aileen Cannon has indefinitely postponed former President Donald Trump’s classified documents trial in Florida, citing significant issues around classified evidence that would need to be worked out before the federal criminal case goes to a jury.

In an order Tuesday, Cannon cancelled the May trial date and did not set a new date. While Trump was in criminal court Tuesday for his hush money trial in New York, Cannon’s move means there are no trial dates currently set for the other three criminal cases against him.

By indefinitely postponing the classified documents trial, Cannon’s order pushes it closer to the 2024 election – and potentially afterward.

The judge’s new schedule lays out all the legal disputes that Cannon must decide before a jury could hear the case. Cannon said that process will take at least until late July of this year.

Cannon noted in her Tuesday order that there are eight substantive pending motions she has yet to decide. She also reiterated that she believes the national security mishandling allegations in the case “present novel and difficult questions.”

Though all parties agreed that the case wouldn’t be ready to go before a jury in May, prosecutors still pushed for a July trial date, while Trump and his co-defendants proposed dates in August and September. Although Trump’s attorneys have continuously asserted in court filings that a pre-election trial would be “unfair.”

The further delayed trial also could put Trump’s two federal cases on a collision course.

In Washington, DC, the former president is charged with alleged crimes he committed during his presidency to reverse the 2020 election results. That case, also brought by special counsel Jack Smith’s team, has been on pause while the Supreme Court considers Trump’s claims of sweeping immunity. A decision from the high court is expected by July.

Trump is charged in the Florida case with mishandling classified documents and with working with two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, to obstruct the Justice Department’s investigation. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Cannon said in her new scheduling order that she will hold a hearing on what had been considered Trump’s longshot request for records from the Biden administration.

The hearing will start on June 24 and is scheduled to last three days.

The move by Cannon is a significant win for the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee. The proceeding will give Trump and his attorneys a platform to air unfounded theories about the prosecution, including the accusation that it is politically motivated.

Attorneys for Smith have vehemently denied allegations of political bias and opposed the move to hold the hearing as unnecessary and unjustified.

Cannon also scheduled a June 21 hearing on Trump’s claims that Smith was unlawfully appointed.

In his bid for records from the Biden administration, Trump has argued that he is entitled to a broad swath of records from various federal agencies, including from President Joe Biden’s White House, because Trump claims those agencies are effectively part of the prosecution team.

Smith’s office countered that Trump’s theories were “baseless,” that the discovery request was “frivolous,” and that the defense lawyers’ arguments had fallen well short of the high threshold for holding such a proceeding.
The Daily Caller
written by Reagan Reese
Tuesday May 7, 2024.

The FBI brought props to its raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago for classified documents that were pictured in an infamous photo taken at the alleged crime scene, according to court documents.

Jay Bratt, the lead Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor now assigned to special counsel Jack Smith’s team, admitted in a recent court filing that FBI agents brought cover sheets reading “top secret” to the raid of Mar-a-Lago to use as placeholders in their gathering of classified documents. The classified documents, however, now appear to be out of order following their seizure, both Trump’s defense attorney and the special counsel have admitted, according to court documents first reported by Declassified with Julie Kelly.

The crime scene photo of classified documents allegedly found at Mar-a-Lago, complete with the bright red “classification” cover sheets, went viral in the weeks after the raid. Corporate media outlets breathlessly reported on the photo and the cover sheets as proof that Trump had been storing classified documents at his Florida property.

“[If] the investigative team found a document with classification markings, it removed the document, segregated it, and replaced it with a placeholder sheet. The investigative team used classified cover sheets for that purpose,” Bratt wrote in a recent filing.

In a May filing, defense attorneys for Trump c0-defendant Waltine Nauta wrote that the placeholders which the FBI brought to the scene to mark classified documents in stacks were out of place.

“Following defense counsel’s review of the physical boxes…and the documents produced in classified discovery, defense counsel has learned that the cross-reference provided by the Special Counsel’s Office does not contain accurate information,” the attorneys wrote, according to Kelly.

“[Thirteen] boxes or containers contained documents with classification markings, and in all, over one hundred unique documents with classification markings…were seized. Certain of the documents had colored cover sheets indicating their classification status. (Emphasis added.) See, e.g., Attachment F (redacted FBI photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the ‘45 office’),” Bratt wrote in an August 2022 court filing.

Kelly writes that Bratt’s original filing did not explain where those classified document sheets had come from, though later he admitted that the sheets were in fact brought to the scene by FBI agents.

“In other words, in their zeal to stage a phony photo using official classified cover sheets, FBI agents might have failed to accurately match the placeholder sheet with the appropriate document. This is a potentially case-blowing mistake, particularly if the document in question is one of the 34 records that represents the basis of espionage charges against Trump,” Kelly reported.

In response to Nauta’s filing, Bratt admitted that the placeholders had been rearranged, and that not all of them had been properly matched with the right placeholder sheet, according to a court document.

“In many but not all instances, the FBI was able to determine which document with classification markings corresponded to a particular placeholder sheet,” Bratt wrote in response to the defense attorney’s request for more time.

While Trump is being charged for mishandling classified documents, President Joe Biden had a special counsel of his own investigate him for his handling of similarly classified documents. Despite the FBI seizing documents from Biden’s Delaware home, the photo of the raid showed the president’s documents in boxes, rather than sprawled out with “top secret” placeholders.

Special Counsel Robert Hur did not recommend bringing charges against Biden.
America First Legal (AFL)
written by Staff
Thursday April 4, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) sued the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to compel the immediate release of documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding the secretive Presidential Information Technology Committee (PITC) created by former President Barack Obama.

In January, AFL filed a FOIA with the Defense Information Systems Agency, part of the Department of Defense, to understand PITC.

PITC is highly relevant today as it creates a presumption that the President controls all information he receives. Thus, it is relevant to what a President may reasonably believe about information given to him in office.

If information stored on the PITC network formed the basis for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of former President Trump, that evidence should have been disclosed to the former President and may be relevant to his liability. This is especially significant given the Special Counsel’s case in Florida hinges on the notion that former President Trump was not “authorized” to retain certain documents. The PITC memo could create a reasonable belief for any President that he has such authority.

Additionally, suppose the records Trump allegedly destroyed are still preserved within the EOP or the U.S. Department of Defense as part of PITC-created information systems. In that case, claims in the indictment that President Trump removed or destroyed records may be baseless.

Given the DOD’s failure to hand over the requested information, AFL has filed a lawsuit. AFL will not cease in its legal battle until the DOD produces documents as required under the law.

Statement from Dan Epstein, America First Legal Vice President:

“America First Legal’s suit today raises significant legal questions the Biden Administration must confront. First, the President’s Information Technology Committee presumes that all information received by the President is within his control. That principle complicates the indictment by the Special Counsel’s Office, particularly on the question of what President Trump was authorized to access and retain. Alternatively, if the Court finds that records subject to PITC are agency records, not presidential records, and were separately preserved by the Department of Defense, then it raises serious questions about the National Archives’ decision to refer Trump to the Department of Justice as that referral would be based on the false claim that President Trump removed presidential records.” said Dan Epstein.

Read the lawsuit here.

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