Trump-appointed judge to oversee Trump criminal case

The judge overseeing Trump’s criminal case in Florida may be a household name for political watchers.

Miami — donald trump historic criminal case involving the felony of mishandling confidential documents The case, which is set to unfold in Florida, will be overseen by a federal judge, at least initially, who ruled in his favor last year and has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the Justice Department’s position. had expressed.

US district allocation Judge Eileen CannonThe case, which a person familiar with the developments acknowledged on Friday, is unusually bright news for Trump, who faces multiple criminal charges that carry the potential for several years in prison.

Cannon was widely criticized last year for granting Trump’s legal team a request for the special counsel to conduct an independent investigation into hundreds of classified documents seized from his Florida property. The move, which temporarily halted core Justice Department investigative efforts, was overturned months later by a three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, on Friday, President Trump announced a restructuring of his legal team, saying future cases will not be with previously active attorneys James Trusty and John Lowry, but with his own attorneys in a separate New York prosecution. A lawyer, Todd Blanche, said he would be in charge. The confidential document case continued for months.

The Justice Department was expected to release the indictment by Tuesday ahead of next week’s historic court appearance amid the 2024 presidential election, which has suspended criminal prosecutions in multiple states.

Trump’s indictment will undoubtedly have serious legal implications, including possible imprisonment if convicted.

But it also has huge political implications, potentially upending a Trump-dominated Republican presidential primary, and potentially indicting Republican voters and party leaders twice and facing additional charges. It will again test the willingness to stick to a candidate who has the potential to do so. And this is a sensational one centered around the allegation that the man once entrusted with the protection of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets intentionally and illegally hoarded classified national security information after he left office. It becomes the stage of the trial.

The Justice Department did not immediately publicly confirm the charges. But two people familiar with the situation said they were not authorized to discuss it publicly, but that the indictment included seven criminal charges. One of them said prosecutors contacted Trump’s lawyers just before Trump announced on the Truth social platform that he had been indicted on Thursday.

Within minutes of the announcement, Trump began fundraising for the presidential campaign. He proclaimed his innocence in the video, repeating the familiar refrain that his investigation was a “witch hunt.” He is scheduled to appear in court in Miami on Tuesday afternoon, where a federal grand jury was hearing his testimony until recently this week, he said.

The lawsuit deepens the legal crisis for Mr Trump, who has already been indicted. indicted in New York and face Additional investigations in Washington and Atlanta It can also lead to criminal prosecution. But legal experts, as well as Trump’s own aides, say the Mar-a-Lago investigation poses the most dangerous threat and the ripest window of prosecution of all the various investigations he has faced. For a long time I had seen that there was an investigation. Since Trump’s lawyers were notified that he was under investigation, campaign aides braced for the aftermath, assuming the question was when, not if, they would be charged.

Trusty appeared on CNN Thursday night and said the charges included willful retention of defense information (an offense under the Espionage Act, which regulates the handling of government secrets), obstruction, false statements and conspiracy. Stated.

The case is a landmark for the Justice Department, which has investigated Trump as president and as a private citizen for years, but has never indicted him before. The most notable investigation was a previous special counsel investigation into his relationship. 2016 Campaign and Russia, But in that investigation, prosecutors cited the Justice Department’s policy not to indict a sitting president. But once he left office, that protection was lost.

The investigation took a big step forward last November. Attorney General Merrick Garlandappointed a soft-spoken former federal judge who has long said that no one should be considered above the law jack smitha war crimes prosecutor with a reputation for aggressive and harsh accusations, will lead both the dossier and a separate investigation into efforts to overthrow the 2020 election.

The indictment stems from a months-long investigation into whether President Trump broke the law. Hundreds of documents on his Palm Beach property marked classifiedMar-a-Lago, and whether President Trump has taken steps to thwart government efforts to restore the record.

Prosecutors said Trump took about 300 classified documents to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House. Including about 100 seized by the FBI last August It was a house search that highlighted the seriousness of the Department of Justice investigation. Trump has repeatedly claimed he had the right to keep classified documents when he left the White House, and has also claimed that he declassified them without evidence.

Court records released last year showed federal investigators believed there were possible causes for multiple crimes. Including holding defense intelligencedestruction and sabotage of government records.

Since then, the Justice Department has collected additional evidence and secured grand jury testimony from people close to Trump. Including his own lawyer. The statutes governing the handling and sabotage of confidential records are felonies that can carry a prison term of several years if convicted.

Still, given that Trump’s initial indictment attracted millions of dollars in donations from angry supporters and that the polls didn’t weaken Trump’s position, that’s how much it puts into Trump’s position. It’s still unclear if it does any damage.

The former president has long tried to use his legal troubles for his own political gain, and has said on social media and publicly that the case is being shunned by Democratic prosecutors to undermine the 2024 election campaign. I have sued. He is likely to resort to that strategy again, with the Department of Justice (which during his presidency investigated whether the 2016 campaign colluded with Russia) being weaponized against him in some way. It would revive the long-held claim that

Mr. Trump’s legal troubles go well beyond the New York indictment and classified documents case.

Smith is separately investigating Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The Fulton County district attorney in Georgia is also investigating Trump for allegedly trying to sabotage the state’s 2020 election.

Signs that an indictment was imminent had been building for weeks. Trump’s Lawyers Meet Monday and Justice Department officials. His lawyers were also recently informed that he was under investigation, the most obvious sign to date that an indictment was imminent.

Most of the investigative work was done in Washington, and a grand jury had been held in Washington for several months, but recently, prosecutors at another commission in Florida, where many of the sabotages the prosecutors had scrutinized, took place. was found to have provided evidence. .

The Justice Department said President Trump repeatedly resisted efforts by the National Archives and Records Administration to retrieve the documents. After months of back-and-forth, Trump’s representatives returned 15 boxes of records in January 2022, including about 184 documents officials claimed were marked confidential. was

In May 2022, the FBI and Justice Department investigators issued a subpoena for classified documents held by President Trump. But after Mr. Trump’s lawyers turned over 30 records and claimed an intense raid, officials began to suspect that more documents remained.

The investigation simmered for months before it made a surprising headline story last August. That was when FBI agents issued a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago and removed 33 boxes containing classified records, including top-secret documents that were hidden in storage rooms and desk drawers and mixed with personal belongings. Some records were so sensitive that investigators needed upgraded security clearances to examine them, the Justice Department said.

Following the discovery of classified documents at President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and former Washington office, as well as former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home, the probe into Mr Trump… Politically, if not legally, it seemed complicated. The Justice Department recently advised Mr. Pence that no charges will be filed against him, but a second special counsel is continuing to investigate Mr. Biden’s handling of classified documents.

But compared to Trump, there are stark differences in the facts and legal issues surrounding Biden and Pence’s handling of the documents, and representatives for both men voluntarily turned the documents over to investigators as soon as they were discovered. It also includes a statement that it has been handed over. By contrast, investigators quickly focused on whether President Trump, who has expressed disdain for the FBI and the Justice Department during his four years in office, attempted to sabotage the investigation by refusing to provide all the requested documents. guessed

Tucker reported from Washington. Colvin reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Trump-appointed judge to oversee Trump criminal case

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