Judge Cannon Rules Against Trump in Pre-Trial Dismissal, But Wait, There’s More

Florida Federal Judge Aileen Cannon ruled that Trump cannot escape prosecution by arguing to dismiss the classified documents case citing the Presidential Records Act — for now.

Undoubtedly Cannon was worried about a reversal at the hands of the 11th Circuit as suggested by Jack Smith. So she made her chess move:

Cannon ruled that “the Presidential Records Act does not provide a pre-trial basis to dismiss …” 

However, the key part of this ruling is “pre-trial.” Cannon is not saying that she won’t consider that a valid legal defense during trial, although this order seems to suggest that she recognizes it is a stretch to say the least.

Red Flag Warning: This may not be her final word on the subject.

Judge Cannon’s Other Bomb

Cannon also rejected Jack Smith’s request to finalize the jury instructions before trial as “unprecedented and unjust.”

Cannon said Smith was overreacting to her attempt to make him submit jury instructions which incorporated the PRA, saying she was simply asking in “a genuine attempt (on her part) to better understand the parties’ competing positions …”

Smith wanted this issue resolved now because if Cannon decided that the PRA was applicable at some point during the trial (rather than before) based on the testimony and evidence presented, the government would have no ability to appeal that since the trial would’ve already commenced. 

Cannon’s ruling suggests that Trump might eventually be able to raise a Presidential Records Act defense at trial.

Jury instructions that adopt Trump’s position on the PRA could also give the judge sufficient legal wiggle room to acquit Trump herself at the end of a trial — by declaring the government had failed to prove its case.

So Trump initially gets his ask blocked, but Cannon leaves the door open to fiddle with the trial (which hasn’t even been scheduled!) once it’s underway.

NYT, Meidas Touch