Updated Mar 14, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Florida judge denies one of Trump's bids to throw out classified docs case

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at the Forum River Center March 09, 2024 in Rome, Georgia.

Former President Trump addresses a campaign rally on March 9 in Rome, Georgia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The judge overseeing former President Trump's classified documents case rejected one of his motions to dismiss the charges on Thursday, hours after a hearing over the arguments concluded.

Why it matters: Trump attended the hearing in Fort Pierce, Fla., where his legal team sought to defend two motions the former president's legal team has filed in seeking to throw out the charges in his classified documents case.

  • Judge Aileen Cannon in her filing cited "unconstitutional vagueness" in her dismissal of Trump's motion.
  • Cannon has not yet ruled on the other motion presented during the hearing, which centered around the Presidential Records Act.

Driving the news: "The Court ultimately determines, following lengthy oral argument, that resolution of the overall question presented depends too greatly on contested instructional questions about still-fluctuating definitions of statutory terms/phrases as charged," Cannon wrote in the filing.

  • Trump's legal team is seeking to dismiss the charges in the case using arguments in part centered around their interpretations of the Presidential Records Act.
  • Trump's team in a filing last month argued that he had "virtually unreviewable" executive authority to designate presidential documents as personal under the law.
  • Trump's team also argued that special counsel Jack Smith used an unconstitutionally vague use of the Espionage Act to pursue charges.

State of play: Cannon peppered Trump's lawyers with questions over their defense that Trump had designated the documents as personal, CNN reports.

  • "It's difficult to see how this gets you to the dismissal of an indictment," Cannon told Trump's attorneys in court, adding that their defense would effectively "gut the PRA altogether."

Zoom in: The hearing came as Cannon is also considering the trial's start date, which is currently scheduled to begin on May 20, but Cannon has previously indicated that she is open to postponing it.

  • Trump faces 40 counts in the federal case, including charges of willful retention of national defense information and making false statements and representations.

The big picture: Trump saw a win in another one of his criminal cases earlier this week.

  • The judge overseeing his Georgia 2020 election case threw out some of the charges in the case, but noted prosecutors could refile them if they provide additional details.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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