Special counsel throws out judge’s request for jury instructions in Trump secrets case


Special Counsel Jack Smith strongly criticized a recent order by a judge presiding over cases of alleged mistreatment by former President Donald Trump. confidential documents, He said the request for jury instructions from his office and Trump’s lawyers was based on a “fundamentally flawed legal premise.”

in Tuesday’s court filing, Smith argued that the legal premise behind Judge Eileen Cannon’s request was “wrong” and that it could “skew” the trial and lead to a verdict in Trump’s favor. did. The special counsel urged Cannon to “promptly” determine whether the legal premise at issue amounts to a “correct enactment of the law,” and if the judge rules against federal prosecutors. Federal prosecutors have indicated they intend to appeal.

August 1, 2023, Special Counsel Jack Smith, Washington, DC.Saul Loeb/AFP from Getty Images File

last month’s cannon Directed President Trump and the special counsel to submit jury instructions based on two competing scenarios. The Presidential Records Act relates to charges brought against Trump under the Espionage Act for mishandling classified documents.

In the first scenario outlined by Cannon, a jury would be able to review the records and determine which documents held by Trump are “personal” or “presidential” under the Presidential Records Act. In the second scenario, Cannon told lawyers that under the law a president has the “sole authority” to legally preserve documents at the end of his term by declaring them “personal” or “presidential” records. We instructed them to prepare instructions based on the premise that Trump defended himself in the case.

“Both scenarios are based on an unstated and fundamentally flawed legal premise: that the Presidential Records Act (“PRA”), particularly its distinction between “personal” and “presidential” records, It is to determine whether a former president is “authorized.” “Under the Espionage Act, you are prohibited from possessing highly classified documents and storing them in an unsecured facility,” Smith’s team wrote in the filing.

The Presidential Records Act requires the return of presidential records at the end of a president’s term, but states that personal records can preserve documents that are described as containing “highly personal information, such as diaries, logbooks, and medical records.”

in Tuesday submission In response to Cannon’s order, Trump’s lawyers argued that the Presidential Records Act gives Trump the power to decide whether records are personal or presidential records and that he owns them. Mr. Trump argued that all records, regardless of their classified markings, could be considered private, and that: These are personal records and cannot be arbitrarily inferred by the court.

One of the jury instructions they proposed was for the judge to tell jurors, “If President Trump designates a document as a ‘personal record’ under the Presidential Records Act, the classification status of that document is Even if there is, it has no bearing on your evaluation.” Whether the government has met its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the documents you are considering are “presidential records.” ”

Mr. Smith’s office called such instructions a grave mistake and characterized Mr. Trump’s defense using the Presidential Records Act as pure fiction.

“President Trump’s attempt to rely on the PRA is not based on any facts,” prosecutors said. “This is an after-the-fact justification concocted more than a year after he left the White House, and his summons to this court in the PRA was actually made while he was president. Any decision to designate records as personal is unfounded.” ”

He also said there is no evidence that Trump has claimed the documents were considered personal while he was president.

“During a thorough investigation, the government revealed that President Trump’s own PRA representatives and numerous senior White House officials, including the Chief of Staff, the White House Counsel and senior members of the Office of the White House Counsel, the National Security Adviser, “We have interviewed senior members of the National Security Council,” they wrote. “President Trump’s deletion of the records at the time he designated the records as personal or caused the transfer of the box to Mar-a-Lago does not qualify the records as personal under the law.” “I never heard anyone say that they believed it was tantamount to designating it as a PRA.”On the contrary, all the witnesses asked this question said they had never heard of such a thing. Trump and his lawyers repeatedly referred to documents in his possession as “presidential records” long after he left the White House.

Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers wrote in their proposed jury instructions that to find that Trump “knowingly” took possession of classified documents, the government must have “voluntarily and intentionally taken possession of classified documents.” It is necessary to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is, and for some reason, it is not that way.” Was it a mistake or a coincidence? ”

“Medical science has not yet devised a device that can record what was in a person’s mind in the distant past,” the proposed instructions read. “There is little direct evidence available to establish a person’s mental state. Mental state can be inferred from what a person says or does at the time a particular event occurs. The intent with which an act was performed is often clearer and more definitive by the act itself, or by a series of acts, than by words or descriptions of the act long after it has occurred. ”

playing cards facing multiple charges Classified documents cases include willful retention of national defense information, false statements or representations, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding of documents or records, and corrupt concealment of documents.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Co-defendants in the case, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, also pleaded not guilty to related charges. President Trump in February moved to dismiss He submitted classified documents in Florida, arguing that he cannot be prosecuted under presidential immunity.

last month’s cannon rejected Trump’s motion He dismissed the lawsuit as constitutionally vague and expressed skepticism about his lawyers’ claims to throw out the case under the Presidential Records Act.

Summer Concepcion

Summer Concepcion is a political reporter for NBC News.

Dale Gregorian

Dareh Gregorian is a political reporter for NBC News.

lisa rubin


Christina Wilkie, CNBC


Katie S. Pan



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