Judge Aileen Cannon pushes back on idea that more hearings will delay Trump classified documents case

Judge Aileen Cannon wants to hold additional hearings on Donald Trump’s attempts to challenge key evidence in his classified documents case and will allow the former president’s lawyers to question witnesses about the investigation and search of Mar-a-Lago.

On Thursday, the Florida-based judge said in a new order that she wants more evidence about the language in the FBI warrant used to seize classified records from Mar-a-Lago in 2022 and about grand jury testimony from Trump’s former attorney, Evan Corcoran.

Those issues were argued in hearings on Tuesday, but Cannon did not rule on the matters. The judge did not say when additional hearings would be held.

Cannon has been widely criticized for dragging out the case over multiple hearings, and a prosecutor at the hearing earlier this week told her he believed the Trump team was trying to hijack the proceedings as a way to spread conspiracies about the work of federal investigators on this case.

In her 11-page order Thursday, Cannon seemed to push back on her critics.

“There is a difference between a resource-wasting and delay-producing ‘mini-trial,’ on the one hand, and an evidentiary hearing geared to adjudicating the contested factual and legal issues on a given pre-trial motion to suppress,” Cannon wrote.

Cannon said she would revisit the language used in the search warrant to seize property from Mar-a-Lago two years ago and the Justice Department’s use of Corcoran’s testimony to bolster the obstruction part of the case.

The special counsel’s office has strongly opposed the need for additional hearings and Trump’s attempts to cut out parts of the case.

Those court proceedings, which would include witness testimony and evidence presentation, would happen before a trial. Cannon then would need to decide if evidence seized from Trump’s Florida estate and Corcoran’s grand jury testimony could be used at trial.

Cannon has not set dates for the additional hearings yet. In her order, she laid out the next steps before more hearings can happen.

“The parties can meaningfully confer beforehand on the scope and timing of the hearing, raising appropriate objections with the Court as necessary; the parties can (and will) file exhibit and witness lists as is customary in federal criminal suppression litigation; and the Special Counsel can request the Court to impose reasonable limitations on the evidence produced to ensure efficiency and control,” the judge said.

Trump’s lawyers say they believe the wording used in the search warrant to authorize agents to seize “national defense information” and “Presidential Records” wasn’t specific enough, and Cannon agreed that there were “ambiguities.”

“The Court determines that some of the terms in that document do not carry ‘generally understood meaning[s]’ such that a law enforcement agent, without further clarification, would have known to identify such material as ‘seizable’ property,” the judge wrote on Thursday. “Further factual development is warranted related to Defendant Trump’s particularity challenge” of the search warrant’s language.”

Cannon denied Trump’s request, however, for another hearing about the validity of the court-approved warrant to search several rooms at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s team is also testing a Washington, DC, federal court’s decision during the grand jury investigation to force Corcoran to share his conversations with Trump, after finding Trump may have misled his attorney while attempting to obstruct federal authorities from recovering classified records after his presidency.

Cannon said she would look again at the use of Corcoran’s notes and testimony about his former client.

“It is the obligation of this Court to make factual findings afresh on the crime-fraud issue,” Cannon wrote. “And a standard means by which to make such findings — as is customary in criminal suppression litigation — is following an evidentiary hearing at which both sides can present evidence (documentary and testimonial, as applicable).”

In an order Thursday, Cannon also said she would allow one more filing from each party on the proposed gag order from the special counsel’s office.

During a hearing over the gag order Monday, Cannon told prosecutors there needed “to be a factual connection between A and B,” referring to the gap between Trump’s comments and potential threats prosecutors have warned about.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement that the case should be thrown out.

“Highly respected Judge Aileen Cannon has rightfully scheduled hearings on the un-Constitutional piercing of President Trump’s attorney-client privilege and the illegal raid on Mar-a-Lago by Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ,” Cheung said. “The entire documents case was a political sham from the very beginning and it should be thrown out entirely.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Holmes Lybrand contributed to this report.

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