Blanche is a former Manhattan federal prosecutor who already was working on Trump’s defense in the criminal case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office earlier this year. His job now in Florida is to prepare and conduct an effective criminal defense in the most high-profile criminal case in recent memory.
Here are 6 things Blanche and her colleagues are almost certainly working on as we speak:
Proposal to Reject
There are a variety of preliminary motions that a criminal defendant can carry.
One of them is a motion to dismiss some or all of the indictments because they are legally deficient in your face, even assuming all of the factual allegations in the indictment are true. This is a very high bar for criminal defendants to pass, but the motions to dismiss are granted from time to time.
In this case, Trump’s lawyers could consider whether it is possible to launch the case on the theory that Trump had the inherent authority to declassify and remove the material after he left office.
Most informed legal observers have strongly disputed this claim and, in any case, it has no obvious bearing on allegations related to Trump’s obstruction of the Justice Department investigation.
Trump’s lawyers could also file a motion to dismiss based on alleged selective prosecutions, based on the theory that Trump was singled out by prosecutors while other Democratic politicians, such as 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, received a furlough. for their alleged mishandling of confidential information.
The argument has formed the centerpiece of Trump’s public defense by his political allies in recent days, but it’s far from compelling as a legal matter: The allegations against Trump are distinguishable on multiple grounds, including, most notably, the ‘extensive and elaborate alleged attempt on his part to obstruct government investigations.
Now that Trump has been indicted, the government is required to disclose a substantial amount of information to the defense, including evidence prosecutors intend to present at trial, any exculpatory evidence, and statements made to the government by witnesses they intend to call at trial that were provided either in voluntary hearings or before a large jury.
The extent of the government’s discovery is often disputed by defendants, so don’t be surprised if Trump’s lawyers file motions for more discoveries beyond what the government unilaterally provided.
Trump’s lawyers will want to get as much of this information as quickly as possible, and they will want to examine it as closely as possible to identify any information they believe may be useful to them, including exculpatory evidence and errors or inconsistent statements by witnesses that the government can call to trial.
In theory, Trump’s lawyers’ review of the government’s finding could also generate investigative leads they may want to follow up to bolster their defense.
Motions to suppress or exclude evidence
This is another important area of pre-trial litigation in criminal cases.
Defendants can move to suppress evidence they believe was obtained illegally, such as if the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated by an illegal search. As the trial approaches, so can they move to exclude evidence from the case of the government for a variety of reasons.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s lawyers are considering moving to suppress evidence obtained by the government from Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran, which produced what appears to be key evidence regarding her dealings with Trump as they responded to the Justice Department grand jury subpoena last year.
The government had to file a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC, to obtain that evidence, but Trump’s lawyers may try to re-examine the matter now that they’re in Florida and now that they have more information to raise an objection. .
Evidence of prosecutorial misconduct
Trump’s attorneys will also be on the lookout for any potential prosecutorial misconduct they may be able to use to narrow or derail the case.
So far, the arguments to that effect that have been made in recent days have not been particularly persuasive from a legal standpoint, but at least in theory, that could always change depending on how things play out.
An alternative narrative
Trump’s lawyers are no doubt also looking for something in the way of a coherent alternative narrative to advance in court and at trial.
After last year’s Mar-a-Lago search, Trump and his deceased lawyers offered a series of factual claims and arguments in the court of public opinion, but they never came together to form a cogent and persuasive account of what it emerged it could actually help Trump.
Of course, Trump is under no obligation to prove his innocence in court — like all criminal defendants, it is up to the government to establish Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and Trump is under no obligation to testify or even call any witnesses — but the best defenses have an alternative case theory that jurors can potentially latch onto. (« Hillary did it too, » other than being wrong about the facts isn’t likely to go very far.)
The date of the trial
Trump’s lawyers also address an important strategic question of whether and how to drag the program beyond the 2024 election if Trump is the Republican candidate for president.
If they go down this path, they might not need much help along these lines, since Trump appears to have had a lot of luck with appointing District Judge Aileen Cannon as presiding judge.
Cannon is a Trump appointee and the same judge who was overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last year after he appointed a special master to oversee the government’s review of material recovered from Mar-a-Lago. He is now, once again, the most followed judge in the country.
A version of this first appeared in the nightly newsletter of June 13th.