05/18/2024

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Left: Former President Donald Trump, center, talks with defense attorney Emil Bove, left, before the start of trial at Manhattan criminal court, Friday, May 3, 2024 in New York. (Mark Peterson/Pool Photo via AP)/Right: Former President Bill Clinton speaks during a campaign stop for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Keene State College in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Trump Docket: Trump tells Cannon that Bill Clinton ‘may still possess’ classified info while demanding Mar-a-Lago case dismissal

Left: Former President Donald Trump, center, talks with defense attorney Emil Bove, left, before the start of trial at Manhattan criminal court, Friday, May 3, 2024 in New York. (Mark Peterson/Pool Photo via AP)/Right: Former President Bill Clinton speaks during a campaign stop for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Keene State College in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

This week, as the weight of his criminal trial in New York bears down on him, Donald Trump’s attorneys made a play to nix his espionage indictment in Florida altogether by, among other strategies, telling U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that former President Bill Clinton “may still possess classified information” and yet no one has yet “lifted a finger” to prosecute him.

The accusation was one of many laid out in a motion to dismiss on grounds of selective prosecution.

“Former President Clinton possessed, and may still possess, tapes that obviously contain classified information,” Trump’s lawyers wrote, referencing tapes they say Bill Clinton retained and later relied on for his 2004 book, “My Life.”

Trump — who is alleged to have kept records containing nuclear secrets in his shower at his Mar-a-Lago property — alleges the way Clinton held and then used those tapes for his book is identical to his situation because “the tapes contain the type of information that the Special Counsel’s Office and the Intelligence Community have repeatedly contended are classified and sensitive, such as military operations, intelligence assessments, communications with foreign leaders, and the dates on which President Clinton was briefed on particular issue.”

The more than 100-page filing, replete with exhibits pointing a finger at an array of officials Trump has openly disdained for years, seemed to anticipate that Cannon may be left unpersuaded to dismiss: Trump’s lawyers asked the judge to set a hearing on their arguments soon.

Law&Crime takes a look at this and other developments in Trump’s cases in Florida, Georgia, Washington, D.C., and New York.

Related Coverage:

    NEW YORK

    CRIMINAL

    Jurors heard testimony this week from Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer Keith Davidson describing how she received the $130,000 hush money payment. Trump’s legal team tried to torch Davidson with accusations that he was a serial scammer and extortionist.

    An important audio clip of anticipated witness and former Trump fixer Michael Cohen was played in court this week where he was heard saying Trump hated “the fact that we did it” in reference to the hush money payments. This could mean prosecutors have Trump on the ropes for his knowledge about the arrangements.

    Jurors heard from Gary Farro, a banker who discussed step- by-step the curious movement of funds through Cohen’s accounts.

    They also heard from Hope Hicks, Trump’s onetime press secretary and longtime ally about the anxiety that seemingly swirled around the campaign in 2016 as news of the infamous Access Hollywood tape emerged.

    Meanwhile, two particularly tense hearings played out this week as Judge Juan Merchan held a gag order hearing to consider allegations that Trump repeatedly criticized anticipated trial witnesses in social media posts. Trump was fined $9,000. Merchan warned him “jail may be a necessary punishment.”

    On Friday, Merchan was forced to address a falsehood Trump has perpetuated outside of the courtroom. Trump has claimed the gag order barred him from testifying in his case. That is not true.

    “I want to stress to Mr. Trump: You have an absolute right to testify at trial,” he said.

    Trump’s attempts to stop the hush-money trial just aren’t working.

    If you missed it: Law&Crime contributor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy offered her take on testimony from David Pecker and its impact on the first criminal trial of a former president. The campaign finance violations particularly piqued the interest of Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor at Stetson Law, a Brennan Center fellow and the author of the forthcoming book “Corporatocracy.”

    OF NOTE: Michael Cohen won a retraction from a far-right cable news outlet which said he had an affair with Stormy Daniels.

    Donald Trump and Michael Cohen

    Former President Trump (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) and Michael Cohen (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    CIVIL

    An order was issued Thursday telling Trump he has just 14 days to file the necessary paperwork to get his appeal of his $88.3 million defamation defeat in the E. Jean Carroll case rolling. His motion for a new trial was thoroughly flambéed by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan so this appeal is his last best hope to hold onto his cash.

    FLORIDA

    CRIMINAL

    Trump begged the judge presiding over his classified documents case to throw it out because, among other extraordinary contentions, former COVID-19 pandemic response coordinator Deborah Birx wasn’t prosecuted for “boxes” of records he says she illegally retained.

    Calling his circumstances “intolerable,” he also pointed his finger at his former Vice President Mike Pence, former President Bill Clinton, onetime FBI director James Comey and others.

    Presiding U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon set a new hearing over grand jury matters and materials in an ongoing battle over the sealing and redaction of underlying Trump motions. She also had to remind Trump this week to redact witness names in records he submits. Prosecutors also released a new batch of files from Mar-a-Lago detailing the long journey one box of belatedly-discovered records took.

    Dr. Deborah Birx, Donald Trump

    Left: Dr. Deborah Birx pictured during then President Donald Trump’s COVID disinfectant “injection” presser in 2020 (NBC News/screengrab). Right: Trump visits a Chick-fil-A in April 2024. (AP Photo/Jason Allen)

    GEORGIA

    CRIMINAL

    Things are quiet in the racketeering case this week. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is expected to release a ruling soon, however, on whether a lone charge against Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows can be dismissed.

    OF NOTE: Speaking of fake electors, in case you missed it, over 1,700 miles away in Arizona, another crop of alleged fake electors have been charged with fraud and forgery by a grand jury for their efforts to keep Trump in power despite his 2020 electoral defeat. Meadows was officially served in that case Wednesday and charged with nine felonies. Georgia indictee and Jan. 6 “coup memo” author John Eastman was also denied his request for a stay this week that would have allowed him to pay off his sizable legal bills by continuing to practice law. And elsewhere, Ken Chesebro, who is also charged in the Georgia case, has handed over a bevy of texts and emails to prosecutors in Michigan showing how he invited Trump allies and media darlings to come watch the fake elector scheme unfold in person on Jan. 6. 

    WASHINGTON, D.C. 

    SUPREME COURT

    The high court feels a bit like a watched pot that never boils. After oral arguments on immunity, all there is left to do now is wait for a ruling — and there’s no indication it will be soon. It could be weeks.

    OF NOTE: Disgraced former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is in prison serving his sentence — but not for lack of trying to get out. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court shot down his request for release for a second time. Separately in the nation’s capital this week, the District of Columbia’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommended that Trump Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark be disbarred over his “dishonest attempt to create national chaos” in the run-up to Jan. 6.

    CRIMINAL

    It might have interested special counsel Jack Smith to know that Trump once again publicly admitted that he told the Secret Service to take him to the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

    In this image released in the final report by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, President Donald Trump looks at video monitors showing the crowd gathered on the Ellipse on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, before he spoke. At rights is Ivanka Trump and second from right is Eric Trump. (House Select Committee via AP)

    In this image released in the final report by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, President Donald Trump looks at video monitors showing the crowd gathered on the Ellipse on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, before he spoke. At rights is Ivanka Trump and second from right is Eric Trump. (House Select Committee via AP)

    CIVIL

    U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta gave Trump some breathing room to complete discovery specific to immunity issues he wants to raise in a long-standing civil lawsuit brought against him by police who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 and an array of current and former lawmakers who say they were forced to flee the electoral certification.

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    The post The Trump Docket: Trump tells Cannon that Bill Clinton ‘may still possess’ classified info while demanding Mar-a-Lago case dismissal first appeared on Law & Crime.