06/13/2024

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Donald Trump, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, special counsel Jack Smith

‘Under advisement’: Mar-a-Lago judge mulls arguments over alleged violations of Trump valet’s constitutional rights and ‘shotgun pleading’ during hearing on motions to dismiss

Left: Donald Trump (AP Photo/Mike Stewart), File); Center: U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon (U.S. Senate); Right: Special counsel Jack Smith (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The judge overseeing the Donald Trump Mar-a-Lago documents case issued a post-hearing order late Wednesday regarding two motions to dismiss filed by one of the former president’s co-defendants.

During a lengthy hearing lasting some four hours and 30 minutes, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon heard arguments for and against the motions filed by Trump’s valet, Waltine “Walt” Nauta.

One motion argues prosecutors only charged Nauta in reprisal for refusing to cooperate as a witness against Trump during the initial investigation into the documents recovered from the 45th president’s Palm Beach estate. The second motion argues prosecutors used a “shotgun pleading” to link “varying allegations” against Trump to Nauta even though they have “nothing to do with” the latter man.

After hearing both sides make their case, Cannon simply wrote that she would take all the motions filed “under advisement.” As is often the case in the Southern District of Florida, the court did not offer a precise deadline for when to expect her final ruling on the matters.

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    Cannon did, however, give the parties a quick deadline to get any relevant, final documents as she considers the motions and argument.

    “On or before May 24, 2024, parties directed to file sealed/unredacted versions of remaining items as discussed for docket completeness, along with any notices of supplemental authority in accordance with the Local Rules,” the court’s paperless order reads.

    Cannon has ruled on — and ruled against — motions to dismiss before when they were filed by attorneys representing Trump over alleged constitutional vagueness and the Presidential Records Act.

    The former president was excused from attending the Wednesday hearing due to his ongoing criminal trial in New York City. Granted an absence by the court late last week, the excuse ended up not being particularly necessary since the judge in the hush-money case gave jurors a Memorial Day-inspired nearly weeklong recess after testimony concluded mid-to-late Tuesday morning.

    If admissions made by Nauta’s defense counsel during the hearing are any indication, the prospects for his motion to dismiss over vindictive and selective prosecution is not likely to result in a favorable ruling, according to a courtroom report by The Associated Press.

    “There was a campaign to get Mr. Nauta to cooperate in the first federal prosecution of a former president of the United States and when he refused, they prosecuted him,” defense attorney Stanley Woodward told the judge. “That’s a violation of his constitutional rights.”

    That argument, however, was reportedly not in service of the actual motion to dismiss over vindictive and selective prosecution — but rather an ancillary request for additional discovery.

    According to the AP, Woodward conceded the motion to dismiss, in its present form, was not nearly enough to pass through the relevant legal hoops required under federal law. But, he said, the constitutional damage done to his client so far was more than enough for the court to sign off on a request to obtain all of the prosecution’s communications related to his client, in order to see if a legally relevant level of hostility might be lurking in messages and emails.

    The government termed the defense effort “garbage.”

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    The post ‘Under advisement’: Mar-a-Lago judge mulls arguments over alleged violations of Trump valet’s constitutional rights and ‘shotgun pleading’ during hearing on motions to dismiss first appeared on Law & Crime.