Special Counsel Jack Smith and Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by former President Trump and is presiding over a case in Florida involving classified documents, appear headed towards a showdown.


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


In an urgent move, Smith has filed an appeal, essentially asking Judge Cannon to decide on jury instructions related to the President Records Act (PRA).

Former President Donald Trump maintained that the Presidential Records Act (PRA) granted him the authority to declassify any documents found at Mar-a-Lago, some of which contained sensitive national security information.

Smith claims that a “fundamentally flawed legal premise” belies Cannon’s request for competing jury instructions.

According to Smith, if Judge Cannon agrees with the former president’s assertion that the PRA does not differentiate between official records and private property, he would have the option to file an appeal and ask for an expedited review. Smith also mentioned that implementing such instructions would negatively impact the trial, if it reaches that stage.

“The PRA’s distinction between personal and presidential records has no bearing on whether a former President’s possession of documents containing national defense information is authorized under the Espionage Act, and the PRA should play no role in the jury instructions,” Smith said in the filing. “Indeed, based on the current record, the PRA should not play any role at trial at all.”

“Furthermore, Trump’s entire effort to rely on the PRA is not based on any facts,” Smith continues. “Instead he has attempted to fashion out of whole cloth a legal presumption that would operate untethered to any facts — without regard to his actual decisions, his actual intent, the unambiguous definition of what continues personal records under the PRA, or the plainly non-personal content of the highly classified documents he retained.”

He concludes, “There is no basis in law or fact for that legal presumption, and the Court should reject Trump’s effort to invent one as a vehicle to inject the PRA into this case.”

Legal experts say that Smith’s argument could make or break the special counsel’s case.

“Jack Smith just threw down the gauntlet,” wrote former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti on the X platform. By asking Judge Cannon to rule now, he noted, Smith cautions her to “avoid a miscarriage of justice at trial.”

“If she didn’t rule until the trial started, it could create a potential that the jury could find Trump *not guilty* based on an improper jury instruction that falsely states the law. Prosecutors can’t appeal not guilty verdicts. That’s why Smith wants her to rule before trial,” he added.


Disclaimer: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.