06/13/2024

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Left: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Super Tuesday election night party Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. AP Photo/Evan Vucci. /Right: Aileen M. Cannon speaks remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight nomination hearing to be U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on July 29, 2020, in Washington. U.S. Senate via AP.

Trump asks for, and receives, permission to skip upcoming Mar-a-Lago hearing because he is ‘on trial in Manhattan’

Left: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci); Right: U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon (U.S. Senate)

Former President Donald Trump, 77, asked for, and quickly received, permission to be excused from an upcoming motions hearing in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case on Friday.

Early Friday afternoon, the 45th president’s attorneys filed an unopposed motion seeking leave from the court to skip a May 22 hearing that is focused on two motions to dismiss the indictment filed by co-defendant Waltine “Walt” Nauta, 41, Trump’s personal valet.

The defense motion notes that Trump had “previously scheduled travel outside of” southern Florida because he is “on trial in Manhattan Supreme Court” over hush-money-related allegations.

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    “President Trump — who will be represented by counsel at the May 22 hearing — understands that he has a right to be present in Court, and he knowingly and voluntarily waives his right to appear at the hearing,” the filing reads.

    Notably, special counsel Jack Smith did not oppose Trump’s request to be absent from the upcoming hearing on Nauta’s motions.

    In short order late Friday, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon granted Trump’s request to personally miss the hearing — on one condition: “Counsel for Defendant Trump must be present.”

    More Law&Crime coverage: Mar-a-Lago judge gives Jack Smith a tight deadline to make ‘red box’ redactions for releasing long-secret Trump motions

    Trump’s lead attorney in the hush-money case, Todd Blanche, is also one of his attorneys in the Mar-a-Lago case. There are, however, at least three attorneys who have addressed the court on the former president’s behalf during the Big Apple prosecution. And, Trump is represented by five different attorneys in southern Florida, where Christopher Kise is listed as the ex-president’s lead lawyer.

    The hearing that Trump will miss is about Nauta’s motion to dismiss the indictment over claims of vindictive prosecution, which was filed in late April.

    In that filing, Nauta complained that other Mar-a-Lago employees who moved one storage box apiece were not prosecuted — arguing that he was singled out by the government over his alleged movement of some 60 boxes said to contain classified documents.

    Smith, in turn, lambasted the conduct as “not remotely comparable.”

    More Law&Crime coverage: The Trump Docket: Was Michael Cohen’s testimony a knockout punch for prosecutors and Trump’s best day in court — or just a ‘blow on the chin’?

    The hearing will also deal with Nauta’s late February motion to dismiss over insufficient pleading, which claims the indictment used a “shotgun pleading” to link “varying allegations” against Trump to Nauta even though they have “nothing to do with” the latter man.

    The prosecution sought to thoroughly rubbish that argument as well.

    “Nauta offers a variety of challenges to the charges, but they are all without merit. The Superseding Indictment contains a detailed, clear, and thorough recitation of the factual allegations, carefully tracks the applicable statutory language, and fully apprises Nauta of the crimes with which he is charged,” the government wrote in an early March response. “It makes abundantly clear what crimes he is charged with committing; how, when, and where he committed them; and with whom.”

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