Cannon Refuses to Dismiss Trump Espionage Act Indictment

A federal judge, on Thursday, made the decision not to dismiss the charges against former President Donald Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has dismissed the arguments put forth by attorneys representing the 45th president, stating that the first 32 counts in the superseding indictment are not “constitutionally vague.” The two-page order by Judge Cannon is concise and decisive in its rejection of these claims.

After a thorough analysis and extensive oral argument, the court has reached a verdict on the Motion. While acknowledging the significant arguments put forth, the court finds that the resolution of the underlying question is contingent upon the interpretation of contested instructional questions and the unsettled definitions of statutory terms and phrases. Additionally, there are disputed factual issues that have been raised in relation to the Motion.

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The judge, in her order, found it too early to determine whether the disputed statutory terms, as argued by Trump, are inherently vague and cannot be salvaged even with the additional interpretations provided by the judiciary.

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Defense lawyers argued in their February motion to dismiss on vagueness that the Espionage Act statute, 18 USC § 793(e), which forms the basis of the first 32 counts in the revised indictment by special counsel Jack Smith, has long been considered legally problematic. They pointed out that various courts have made efforts to “save” the statute.

According to Trump, there are three phrases in the document that he finds to be vague. These phrases include “unauthorized possession,” “relating to the national defense,” and “entitled to receive it.”

Cannon’s ruling indicates that she is willing to consider the defense’s argument that certain terms in the Espionage Act have been expanded unconstitutionally by other courts to include harmless actions. However, these claims cannot be used as grounds to dismiss the entire indictment.

Cannon proposed during the oral arguments that the matter should be brought before a jury for consideration and decision-making, as the proceedings had taken up a significant portion of the day.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, the judge appointed by Trump also voiced concerns about the defense’s arguments to dismiss the Espionage Act charges.

According to Cannon, it is difficult to assert that the provision is constitutionally vague.

Trump’s lawyers have attempted to make arguments, both in motions and during Thursday’s hearing, that the disputed terms in the statute have historically had multiple definitions, making them unclear. They argue that these terms have been applied in situations that are completely different from Trump’s case or have been expanded unfairly by activist judges. Additionally, they claim that these terms are not applicable to Trump’s actions due to a separate statute that authorizes his behavior.

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The defense’s claims have been dismissed by the government as “unfounded.”

The court dismissed Trump’s arguments in her order but mentioned that they can be brought up again during the jury-instruction briefing or any other relevant motions.

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