Judge denies Trump's motion to throw out classified files case

The former US president's lawyers he designated the files as personal documents and the charges are too vague

Former US president Donald Trump (pictured) is in the ring for the elections ahead again, despite a bunch of cases against him (photo: DW)
Former US president Donald Trump (pictured) is in the ring for the elections ahead again, despite a bunch of cases against him (photo: DW)


A US federal judge has denied a motion by Donald Trump's lawyers to throw out a criminal case that accuses him of illegally holding onto classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago mansion.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon — who was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020 — denied the motion on Thursday, 14 March, hours after Trump's legal team argued that the central charge was too vague.

She ruled that the question "warrants serious consideration" but should not be decided at this point.

The former president has pleaded 'not guilty' to a 40-count indictment that accused him of retaining classified national security documents at his Palm Beach mansion after he left office in January 2021, and then obstructing US government efforts to retrieve the documents.

What did Trump's lawyers argue?

The legal team representing Trump told the judge that he was authorised to keep the documents because he designated them as "personal" under the Presidential Records Act.

But special counsel Jack Smith's team says that the documents are presidential records, not personal files, and that the Presidential Records Act does not apply to classified and top-secret documents.

The Presidential Records Act "does not exempt Trump from the criminal law, entitle him to unilaterally declare highly classified presidential records to be personal records, or shield him from criminal investigations — let alone allow him to obstruct a federal investigation with impunity," prosecutors wrote in a court filing last week.

Trump's lawyers also argued that the central charge against Trump — that he illegally retained information related to US national defence — is improperly vague as it applies to a former president.

Trump, who is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, faces three other criminal cases ahead of the US election in November.

zc/wmr (AP, Reuters)

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