On Saturday, June 22, 2024, Newsweek reported that former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason outlined four steps he believes the Department of Justice should take if Judge Aileen Cannon rules in favor of Donald Trump’s motion to challenge the legality of special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment in the classified documents case.

Eliason, who formerly worked as chief of the fraud and public corruption section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and is now a white-collar crime professor at George Washington Law, believes the DOJ should not appeal the decision if Cannon dismisses the indictment against Trump. Instead, he proposes that the U.S. Attorney in Florida should refile the same charges in a new case, which Eliason said could be done quickly and easily.

The case would then get reassigned, and Eliason hopes it could potentially be assigned to a new judge. As part of the process, Eliason also recommends that Smith’s prosecution team should be designated as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Florida in order to continue prosecuting the case against Trump. Eliason argued taking this approach would be faster than filing an appeal and could allow prosecutors to avoid Judge Cannon without directly asking for her removal from the case, something Smith has not pursued so far.

Trump was indicted last year on 40 federal charges relating to the retention of classified documents after leaving office in early 2021 and attempts to obstruct government efforts to retrieve the materials. The charges came after the highly-publicized FBI seizure of boxes of records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in August 2022. Trump’s legal team has claimed Special Counsel Smith’s appointment by Attorney General Merrick Garland was invalid as Garland did not receive Senate approval for the appointment.

Eliason’s proposals come as Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2020, continues to hear arguments in West Palm Beach over the former president’s allegations about Smith’s appointment. Cannon has faced bipartisan criticism for delays in setting a trial date for the case, with the election only months away. Prosecutors argue Smith’s appointment followed standard DOJ procedures and policies.

Eliason suggests his four-step plan could help the DOJ avoid further postponements from Cannon and move the case forward more quickly.

 

 

Source: Newsweek