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  /  News   /  Deadline in Trump classified docs case looms for jury instructions

Deadline in Trump classified docs case looms for jury instructions

(NewsNation) — The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case has issued an order many have described as “unusual.” However, some argue it could benefit the former president’s defense.

Judge Aileen Cannon, nominated by then-President Trump, has requested the prosecutor, special counsel Jack Smith, and Trump’s defense team to draft possible instructions for the jury. These instructions will focus on explaining a law that could be helpful to Trump’s defense. The deadline for submission is Tuesday.

This request was made in light of Trump’s recent attempts to have the case dismissed.


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Cannon wants the parties to create different legal scenarios and provide alternative wording for the jury instructions. Additionally, these instructions should make jurors think about whether the government has proven, without a doubt, that the documents Trump kept at his home were either personal or related to his presidential duties.

For months, Trump has claimed that the documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate were personal, citing the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which permits presidents to keep records unrelated to their official duties.

However, Smith’s office argues this doesn’t apply when someone is accused of possessing top-secret information illegally.


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NewsNation spoke with Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor, who said this judge’s request suggests that she wants to ensure that the jury understands certain aspects of the law which might work in Trump’s favor.

“The Espionage Act and the Presidential Records Act doesn’t apply to personal documents. Not only are the documents not personal, because they relate to military or other classified information, this is something the judge herself needs to decide,” he said. “She’s apparently going to put this issue to the jurors but it’s a question of law. It’s something the court has to decide, not a question of fact that’s appropriate for the jury.”

In February, there was also an issue over whether the jurors should be asked about their voting history in the last presidential election.

It remains uncertain if the trial will begin by late July.