I'll Be Brief: Legal Highlights From the Week Ending August 11

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On Monday, I did a quick roundup of the latest developments in former President Donald Trump’s various legal proceedings, thinking it might be helpful to provide a brief rundown/quick reference guide on the day’s rulings, etc. Based on the positive feedback to that, I thought I’d try to make it a semi-regular column and broaden it beyond just Donald Trump (because we’re in an age of high-profile, high-stakes litigation/legal proceedings). Hopefully, readers will find this useful.

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Donald Trump

The 2020 Election Case (D.C. District Court)

Friday morning, Judge Tanya Chutkan held a hearing regarding the motion for protective order filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). As Bonchie detailed, Judge Chutkan’s ruling was a bit of a split decision.

Moving to the actual decision on the matter, Chutkan ultimately adopted the defense’s proposal (which is more of a compromise than a straight win) to have a redline on what material will be considered under the protective order. Specifically, “sensitive” information will be covered while the DOJ’s broader request to cover essentially all discovery won’t be.

That’s where the split in this split decision comes in. While team Trump scored a win by getting a redline on what materials are under the protective order, Chutkan did narrow many of the defense’s other requests, including who can review sensitive information as part of discovery. She likewise broadened what is considered sensitive material in regard to the case to cover recordings.

A full copy of the Judge’s Order can be viewed here:

DC Case – Order Re Protective Order by Susie Moore on Scribd

Next up in the case is a status conference set for August 28th, at which time the court will also hold a hearing on the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), though that is not expected to be a major issue in this case. According to the DOJ, “the classified information at issue in this case is minimal.” It is likely Judge Chutkan will set the case for trial at that time. The DOJ is requesting a January 2, 2024, trial date.

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The Classified Documents Case (Southern District of Florida)

Following Judge Aileen Cannon’s Monday ruling denying Special Counsel Jack Smith’s motion to file certain items under seal and questioning the “legal propriety of [Special Counsel’s] using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the instant indicted matter in this district,” both Trump and co-defendant Walt Nauta were arraigned on the superseding indictments (though neither was required to appear for those arraignments) and the arraignment for newly added co-defendant Carlos De Oliveira was continued to August 15th.

The E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case (Southern District of New York)

As indicated in Monday’s roundup, Judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed Trump’s counterclaim against E. Jean Carroll in the original defamation lawsuit (Carroll I). On Thursday, Trump’s team filed a Notice of Interlocutory Appeal regarding that dismissal. That one is currently set for trial beginning January 15, 2024.

Hunter Biden

Pretty much all hell broke loose late Friday morning when Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he was (finally) appointing a Special Counsel to oversee the investigation into the President’s son. But not just any Special Counsel, David Weiss, the same U.S. Attorney who’s been conducting the investigation for years and signed off on the bogus sweetheart deal that originally was planned — and then panned, once Delaware District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika raised questions about the propriety of the deal. Not only that, but immediately on the heels of Garland’s announcement came news that the plea deal was formally being scuttled, and the DOJ was seeking leave to file charges against Hunter Biden in California and Washington, D.C.

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Sam Bankman-Fried

It wasn’t a good week for the cryptocurrency (alleged) fraudster and Democrat megadonor. First came news that the DOJ was gearing up to file a superseding indictment next week. Then, in a bond revocation hearing Friday afternoon, Judge Kaplan (again – he clearly has a busy docket these days) acceded to the government’s application and revoked Bankman-Fried’s bond in light of evidence of witness tampering. Per the judge’s order, Bankman-Fried is remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal and will remain incarcerated until his October trial. Bankman-Fried has already filed a Notice of Appeal.

Missouri v. Biden

Not a criminal matter but a critical one. The blockbuster First Amendment case was argued before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday. Expect a ruling on that one in the next 30 to 60 days. In the meantime, a brief window into how the argument went down:

Early in the afternoon, a three-judge panel met to decide whether or not to revoke a stay of Judge Terry Doughty’s sweeping July 4th order barring a battery of government agencies from contacting social media companies about content moderation. Biden administration counsel Daniel Bentele Hahs Tenny was under fire from the jump.

It was hard not to feel for Tenny. Sitting across from him was a packed table of anxious plaintiffs’ attorneys, including Missouri’s garrulous, tornado-like former Solicitor General John Sauer — the driving force behind the Missouri v. Biden legislation — as well as the current officeholder, a lean, plain-spoken lawyer with Jimmy Stewart vibes named Josh Devine. Tenny, an ashen, slouching figure, was alone. In a case of major historical import, likely headed to the Supreme Court, the federal government hadn’t even sent another lawyer to keep him company. Staring down at his table, he looked like Napoleon Dynamite at lunch.

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(Personally, I think Taibbi is being charitable.)

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