Aileen Cannon orders yet another hearing in classified documents case

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon did something normal Thursday when she denied one of former President Donald Trump’s motions that never stood much of a chance of success. But she also continued her practice of ordering hearings that will at least further put off a trial in the classified documents case, which still has no trial date but plenty of other unresolved issues.

The motion Cannon denied Thursday was for a so-called Franks hearing, which contests the truthfulness of a warrant affidavit — in this case, for the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. There’s a high bar for such motions, and the judge uncontroversially found that Trump failed to make the required “substantial preliminary showing.”

But in that same order, Cannon said she’ll hold (at some yet-undetermined date) an evidentiary hearing on Trump’s suppression challenge regarding the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege and on the “particularity” of the warrant.

The first issue involves notes belonging to former Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran that could prove damning for the defendant at trial. Another court previously found that the crime-fraud exception applied here, but Cannon said that she’s obliged to “make factual findings afresh” on the subject.

The second issue involves the rule that warrants be sufficiently detailed to comply with the Fourth Amendment. Cannon wrote that “ambiguities” in an attachment to the warrant require a hearing. She conceded that special counsel Jack Smith raised “compelling arguments” about the warrant’s lawfulness but nonetheless decided that more factual development is needed.

As with any hearing, we may learn more about where she’s headed when Cannon questions the lawyers. Siding with Trump on one or both issues would threaten the case, though she would risk being overturned on appeal. And like other hearings she’s held, their mere occurrence provides at least a short-term victory for Trump, by further pushing off a trial in a case that he’s likely to crush if he wins the presidency again in November.

Subscribe to the Deadline: Legal Newsletter for weekly updates on the top legal stories, including news from the Supreme Court, the Donald Trump cases and more.