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Sunday, June 23, 2024  
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Trump avoids punishment for ‘waving classified document’

Legal experts called the ruling 'unusual'
File photo via Vanity Fair
File photo via Vanity Fair

A federal judge overseeing the prosecution of former President Donald Trump on charges related to the retention of classified documents has agreed to remove a paragraph from the indictment. The paragraph described an incident where Trump allegedly waved around a classified document about a military operation at his Bedminster, New Jersey club.

Judge Aileen Cannon ruled that the paragraph should be struck from the indictment because Trump was not charged with a crime for the conduct it described, and including it could be unfairly prejudicial to him if a jury were to see it at trial.

Legal experts noted that this was an unusual move by the judge. Cannon’s decision was based in part on a federal rule that restricts the use of evidence of “other crimes” to suggest a defendant’s bad character, without addressing the part of the rule that allows such evidence if it shows proof of motive.

The prosecutors had argued that the paragraph should be included because it was allowed under that second part of the rule. However, Cannon took issue with the fact that Trump had not been charged for the specific conduct described in the paragraph.

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The paragraph in question vaguely described Trump, after leaving the presidency in 2021, showing a classified map of Afghanistan to a representative of his political action committee and warning them not to get too close to it. The representative did not have the proper security clearance.

While granting the request to remove this paragraph, Cannon denied Trump’s broader motion to have the obstruction charges against him dismissed. Experts say this ruling could indicate how the judge may rule on future attempts by Trump to limit the evidence prosecutors can introduce against him at trial.

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Donald Trump

United States