Cannon Will Not Drop the Indictment Against Trump for Espionage

( – Former President Donald Trump has suffered a setback in his legal issues after a judge refused to drop a key indictment against him. Trump had filed to dismiss charges under the Espionage Act for mishandling classified documents as “constitutionally vague.” However, the judge has ruled that this is a matter for a trial to decide.

In August 2022, FBI agents seized boxes of classified documents from Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. In June 2023, the former president and two others were arraigned on charges under the Espionage Act. Trump himself faces 31 counts of retaining defense-related documents, as well as five counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one of making false statements. On February 22, his legal team filed a motion to dismiss the Espionage Act charges, arguing that the three phrases used to justify them—”unauthorized  possession,” “relating to the national defense,” and “entitled to receive”it”—are vague.

However, on March 14, US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump when he was president, dismissed the motion without prejudice. She ruled that while the motion did raise valid points, it relies too much on arguments about what the law means, rather than whether or not Trump broke it.

It isn’t all bad news for Trump. Cannon’s judgment suggests she’s willing to let his defense team argue that the scope of the Espionage Act has been expanded beyond its original meaning by other courts, in ways that potentially violate the Constitution. However, it looks like she wants a jury to decide on those arguments. She’s also ruled that the same arguments made in the defeated motion can be raised again during the trial, for example, while the jury is being instructed.

The case is slated to go to trial this year, with prosecutors looking for a July start date, while the defense is pushing for August. The defense previously requested the case be moved until next year without success.

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