JUST IN: Jack Smith Faces REMOVAL From Trump Case As Hearing Kicks Off


A hearing into whether special counsel Jack Smith will retain leadership in the federal government’s classified documents case against former President Donald Trump has gotten underway in Florida. The Biden Justice Department prosecutor is expected to face a stiff line of questioning from Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee.

Fox News reported on initial developments in Friday’s hearing in Fort Pierce where the former president’s legal team will argue that Smith was unlawfully appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, not the U.S. Senate. Appearing outside the courthouse, a Fox News correspondent said today’s hearing will be the first of three.

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Trump’s legal team claims they “believe that since Jack Smith’s appointment was unconstitutional, he can’t prosecute Trump in this case, therefore it should be thrown out.” He noted that other courts have dismissed similar challenges to special counsel appointments in the past. Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2021, has faced criticism in some quarters for “slow-walking and delaying the trial,” the correspondent added.

On Thursday, the New York Times issued a blistering hit piece on Cannon, reporting that two senior colleagues urged her to recuse herself from the case. She ultimately disregarded the recommendations of Chief Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga and Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, maintaining oversight of the case and perennially drawing the wrath of Smith for rulings critics say have biased the trial in Trump’s favor. Among her latest rulings is a total pause in discovery and motions while Trump’s immunity claim is pending before the Supreme Court, a delay that will likely push an outcome past the November election. If President Trump wins another term, he is expected to order the Justice Department to drop the case.

Kendall Coffey, a former district attorney for the Southern District of Florida, pushed back on the notion that Judge Cannon is currying favor with Trump. The pace, in his opinion, is justified given the gravity of the 40 felony accounts against Trump, who is accused of retaining classified documents from the White House and failing to return them when asked by the U.S. National Archives.

“This judge is allowing the hearings where a lot of judges have simply rejected these positions on paper. I think it’s a credit to the judicial system when time is given on a case that’s this important, with these momentous issues, that the judge is taking time on issues and having hearings,” Coffey told Fox News.

Similarly, Judge Cannon has given Smith daylight to make his case that Trump would badger or intimidate witnesses if his attorneys were provided an extensive list of those lined up to testify against him. In an April ruling, Cannon opted to side with Smith over the concealment of the identities of certain government witnesses who will testify that President Trump allegedly took documents from the White House knowing that he did not have the power to do so. Shrouding their identities, Smith had argued, prevents reprisal against his witnesses should Trump be elected in November.

At the same time, Judge Cannon has scolded Smith for withholding evidence against Trump from defense attorneys. In November, she wrote that Smith presented a “broad and unconvincing theory” about the Classified Information Procedures Act, which his team claimed allows them to withhold certain documents obtained from Mar-a-Lago on national security grounds.

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