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Judge reshuffles hearings in Trump documents case

SAUL MARTINEZ/THE NEW YORK TIMES
                                Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse, where Judge Aileen Cannon is presiding over the case in which former President Donald Trump is accused of illegally retaining classified documents after leaving office, in Fort Pierce, Fla., on May 22. The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case abruptly changed the proceeding’s schedule on Wednesday, reshuffling the timing for hearings on an array of important legal issues.
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SAUL MARTINEZ/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse, where Judge Aileen Cannon is presiding over the case in which former President Donald Trump is accused of illegally retaining classified documents after leaving office, in Fort Pierce, Fla., on May 22. The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case abruptly changed the proceeding’s schedule on Wednesday, reshuffling the timing for hearings on an array of important legal issues.

The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case abruptly changed the proceeding’s schedule Wednesday, reshuffling the timing for hearings on an array of important legal issues.

The move by the judge, Aileen Cannon, was unlikely to have much impact on the overall trajectory of the case, but it reflected the substantial number of unresolved legal motions she is juggling. Last month, Cannon scrapped the case’s trial date, saying she could not yet pick a new one because of what she described at the time as “the myriad and interconnected” questions she had still not managed to consider.

Cannon kept in place a hearing she had set for June 21 to discuss a motion by Trump’s lawyers to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that Jack Smith, the special counsel named to oversee the prosecutions of Trump, was illegally appointed to his job.

Similar motions have been rejected in cases involving other special counsels, including Robert Mueller, who investigated connections between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign, and David Weiss, who has brought two criminal cases against Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son.

The most important change Cannon made to the schedule in a brief order was arguably the cancellation of a three-day hearing that had been set to take place starting June 24 in U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce, Florida.

The hearing was originally meant to consider whether Trump’s lawyers should be permitted access to communications between prosecutors working for Smith and officials at the National Archives and several national security agencies.

The lawyers want those communications to bolster their claims that Smith worked hand in glove with the Biden administration and members of the so-called deep state to bring the documents case against Trump.

Prosecutors had objected to holding the proceeding at all, telling Cannon in March that no similar hearings had ever been held in the Southern District of Florida, where she sits. In her order Wednesday, she said she would place the hearing back on her calendar at some point in the future.

Instead of that hearing, Cannon said there would now be a shorter one, on June 24 and 25, to consider different topics, including any lingering discussion about Smith’s appointment.

Cannon also told the defense and the prosecution to be ready to debate Trump’s motion to exclude from the case any evidence — including more than 100 classified documents — that the FBI discovered in August 2022 when agents searched Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and residence in Florida.

The two sides will argue as well over Trump’s attempt to suppress the private audio notes that prosecutors obtained from one of his lawyers through a process that pierced the normal protections of attorney-client privilege. The notes by the lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, were central to the government’s allegations that Trump had obstructed the government’s repeated efforts to reclaim the classified materials he took to Mar-a-Lago.

Finally, the parties are expected to discuss Smith’s request to Cannon to alter Trump’s conditions of release by barring him from making public statements that could endanger FBI agents working on the case.

That request was prompted by false statements Trump made last month, twisting the meaning of a standard use-of-force policy employed during the search of Mar-a-Lago. In social media posts and fundraising emails, Trump grossly mischaracterized the policy by suggesting that the bureau had authorized agents to kill him during the search.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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