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Trump’s Criminal Case Takes a Turn with Favorable Judge and New Lawyers

Donald Trump (Via Donald Trump/Twitter)

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who has been critical of the Justice Department’s investigative work in a previous case, will oversee Donald Trump’s criminal case on charges of mishandling classified documents. The case involves seven criminal charges, including wilful retention of national defense information, obstruction, false statements, and conspiracy, and carries the prospect of a years-long prison sentence. Trump’s lawyers, James Trusty and John Rowley, who handled the documents probe for months, have resigned from their roles, and Trump will be represented by Todd Blanche, a lawyer representing him in a separate prosecution in New York, and other yet-to-be-named attorneys.

The indictment is a significant milestone for the Justice Department, which had investigated Trump for years but had never charged him with a crime. The investigation took a major step forward last November when Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, a war crimes prosecutor with an aggressive reputation, to lead the documents probe and a separate investigation into efforts to subvert the 2020 election. Smith’s appointment signaled a more aggressive approach to the investigation, which had previously been criticized for its slow pace.

Donald Trump (Via Donald Trump/Twitter)

Trump’s case centers on claims that he wilfully and illegally hoarded sensitive national security information after leaving office. Prosecutors have said he took roughly 300 classified documents to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House, including 100 that were seized by the FBI last August in a search of the home. Trump has repeatedly insisted he was entitled to keep the classified documents when he left the White House and has also claimed without evidence that he had declassified them.

The case is expected to have enormous political implications, potentially upending a Republican presidential primary that Trump had been dominating and testing the willingness of party voters and leaders to stick with a twice-indicted candidate who could face still more charges. Trump is due in court next week and has already begun fundraising off the indictment for his presidential campaign, declaring his innocence and repeating his claim that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

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