Judge not buying Trump’s arguments that Mar-a-Lago search warrant was invalid

Federal Judge Aileen Cannon said Tuesday she had “a hard time seeing” any problems with the warrant the FBI obtained to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in the summer of 2022.

While she didn’t rule from the bench on the third and final day of oral arguments in Fort Pierce, Florida, Cannon appeared to side with prosecutors over whether Trump’s defense can suppress boxes of evidence seized by the FBI in August 2022.

Trump’s attorney Emil Bove had argued that the warrant was overly broad and unjustly allowed agents to search the entire Mar-a-Lago premises.

Cannon, however, said the language in the warrant, which a magistrate judge signed off on, seems to have been sufficient.

“I have a hard time seeing what more needed to be included” in the warrant’s description of where agents could search in Mar-a-Lago and what physical documents they could seize, Cannon said.

Trump and his co-defendants, personal aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira, are facing charges of mishandling sensitive or classified materials and of obstruction in the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Bove, like in other recent hearings in the classified documents case, wants the judge to hold even more hearings that could probe into the investigators’ work. But Cannon has had tough questions.

“We’re not talking about the search of a single-family home in the suburbs,” Bove said, explaining that the 50-plus-room property wasn’t approached specifically enough by the investigators when they told a court in 2022 they wanted permission to search for and seize classified documents.

“They purported to look for classified documents in a gym and a kitchen,” he added.

But Cannon challenged Bove’s complaints by pointing out there may not be legal issues with agents searching much of the property and finding documents in some rooms but not others.

“You would agree that paperwork, though, could be located anywhere,” the judge said.

Investigators say they found classified documents in various places at the resort, including a public ballroom, a bathroom and a bedroom.

Another tense moment

At the conclusion of the hearing, Cannon and prosecutor David Harbach sparred again – after terse exchanges between the two on Monday – illuminating continued frustration from the special counsel’s office with the hearings and the approach of Trump’s lawyers.

Harbach jumped up after Bove concluded his arguments. Trump’s attorney had tried to claim, without much evidence in court, that prosecutors should have to provide information about any divisions within the FBI regarding the case or whether any agents involved in the case disliked Trump.

Harbach called this an “attempt to hijack the hearing.”

But Cannon, who was already trying to wrap up the almost two-hour hearing, was quick to cut off the prosecutor. She told him the hearing hadn’t been hijacked.

Harbach asked the judge whether he could speak more in open court about the defense strategy.

“It concerns the defense’s repeated attempts to impart allegations that have nothing to do with what’s before the court,” he said.

Cannon then cut him off, ending the hearing.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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