/Trump calls for Jack Smith’s punishment for criticizing judge in classified documents case

Trump calls for Jack Smith’s punishment for criticizing judge in classified documents case

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday said special counsel Jack Smith should be punished for issuing a scathing critique of a recent request for jury instruction proposals by the judge overseeing Trump’s classified documents case.

Smith “should be sanctioned or censured for the way he is attacking a highly respected Judge, Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over his FAKE Documents Hoax case in Florida,” Trump wrote in a post to his Truth Social platform. “He is a lowlife who is nasty, rude, and condescending, and obviously trying to ‘play the ref.’”

In a court filing Tuesday, Smith slammed Cannon’s order for dueling jury instructions from his office and Trump’s lawyers, arguing the request is based on a “fundamentally flawed legal premise” that would “distort” the trial, potentially leading to a directed verdict for Trump. Smith signaled that federal prosecutors would appeal if the judge rules against their request to “promptly” decide whether the legal premise of her order constitutes a “correct formulation of the law.”

Cannon had instructed Trump and Smith’s office to turn in two versions of proposed jury instructions concerning the Presidential Records Act in connection with the charges brought against Trump under the Espionage Act alleging that he mishandled classified documents. The Presidential Records Act underpins a key element of Trump’s defense, which argues that the law gives him the authority to decide whether documents are considered personal or presidential, and thus whether he can retain them after leaving office. Smith’s office disputes that legal interpretation as false. The law itself requires presidential records to be archived, aside from personal records “such as diaries, journals, and medical records.”

One scenario in Cannon’s jury instruction order would give the jury permission to review records that Trump retained and decide which ones are “personal” or “presidential” under the Presidential Records Act. A second scenario asked lawyers to propose jury instructions centered on the assumption that presidents have the “sole authority” under that act to lawfully retain records when they leave office by marking them as “personal” or “presidential” records — echoing Trump’s arguments in the case.

Smith’s office declined to comment on Trump’s post. His office said in its Tuesday filing that Trump’s use of the Presidential Records Act as a defense in the classified documents case is “not based on any facts.”

“It is a post hoc justification that was concocted more than a year after he left the White House, and his invocation in this Court of the Presidential Records Act is not grounded in any decision he actually made during his presidency to designate as personal any of the records charged,” prosecutors said.

The former president faces multiple charges in connection with his alleged mishandling of classified documents after his presidency, including willful retention of national defense information, false statements and representations, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges. In February, he asked that the classified documents case be dismissed, arguing he is shielded from prosecution on the basis of presidential immunity. Cannon has yet to rule on that issue.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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