Cannon strikes paragraph from Mar-a-Lago indictment but denies bid to drop case

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Cannon strikes paragraph from Mar-a-Lago indictment but denies bid to drop case

Judge Aileen Cannon struck from the Mar-a-Lago indictment a paragraph referencing former President Trump’s use of one of the classified documents found at his Florida home, slightly narrowing the case against him while otherwise denying his efforts to toss the case.

The paragraph in question concerns allegations that Trump showed a classified map to a staffer of his political action committee, acknowledging that “he should not be showing the map” and telling the employee not to get too close.

Cannon agreed with Trump’s legal team that its inclusion in the indictment was “not appropriate” after they argued the reference was prejudicial because it was not connected to any crime alleged in the indictment.

Prosecutors can still point to the exchange as evidence during the trial, but the decision nonetheless shows Cannon chastising special counsel Jack Smith’s team, calling much of the language in the indictment “legally unnecessary.”

At another turn she seemed to criticize Smith for using what is known as a “speaking indictment” where prosecutors lay out their charges in great detail, essentially telling the story of their case through court documents.

“The Court also notes the risks that can flow from a prosecutor’s decision to include in a charging document an extensive narrative account of his or her view of the facts, especially in cases of significant public interest,” Cannon wrote.

She would later write that the “identified deficiencies, even if generating some arguable confusion” were permitted by law.

The decision from Cannon clears from her desk one of the many numerous pretrial motions from Trump seeking to toss the case.

The judge has pointed to those motions in indefinitely punting the trial date, failing to set a new one until she resolved what she’s described as numerous complex motions before her.

Legal experts have been critical of the time Cannon has spent mulling the motions, with many arguing she’s spent excessive time reviewing what many saw to be a relatively straightforward case.

Trump is facing charges on 41 counts in connection with the case, the bulk of which are Espionage Act charges targeting the retention of classified records after he left the White House. He is also facing obstruction of justice charges related to his failure to return the records after a subpoena and for hiding them from investigators and his own attorney.