Fri. May 24th, 2024

Judge in Trump classified docs case to keep government witnesses secret

By 37ci3 Apr10,2024



The judge who oversees the former president Donald Trump‘s classified documents case gave federal prosecutors a partial victory Tuesday a dispute that lasted for months granting motions to keep the names of government witnesses under seal.

U.S. District Judge Aileen issued the 24-page order in response to special prosecutor Jack Smith’s request to reconsider an earlier order that the government said could lead to the release of more than two dozen potential government witnesses in the Florida case.

Under Cannon’s new order, the names of potential witnesses will be redacted, although significant portions of witnesses’ statements to investigators may be made public.

Cannon said redaction of identifiable information would address Smith’s safety concerns for potential witnesses and make it unnecessary to grant him “a wholesale request to seal substantial non-identifying witness statements.”

He also criticized Smith in his order, arguing that his arguments and evidence should have been raised earlier.

“While the record makes clear that the special counsel could and should have raised the present arguments earlier, the Court chooses to reconsider its prior Order after fully considering these newly raised arguments,” Cannon said.

A spokeswoman for Smith’s office declined to comment on the order and instead pointed to the special counsel’s court filings on the matter. Trump’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

The issue first arose when Trump’s team sought permission to file an unredacted version of a motion to compel discovery from the government, arguing that parts of the Biden administration and the intelligence community should be considered part of Smith’s prosecution team.

Trump’s team has added exhibits to the sealed version of the motion that include the names and statements of potential government witnesses. Smith opposed Trump’s request to unseal an action that contained personally identifiable information.

Last month, Cannon heard arguments on Smith’s motion to reconsider an earlier order sealing the names, which he argued would lead to witness intimidation and harassment.

“This is not a hypothetical concern,” David Harbach, an attorney for the special counsel’s team, said at a hearing last month. “It’s a real concern and they know it.”

Emile Bove, one of Trump’s lawyers, responded that Trump’s team “is not here to harm people or harass anyone.” Rather, Trump’s attorneys argued at the hearing that the exhibits contained witness statements to support their arguments.

Public versions of Trump’s motion to compel discovery and accompanying exhibits will be available by April 22, according to Cannon’s order. The lawsuit focuses on allegations of Trump’s mismanagement confidential documentsno trial date yet.

Trump is accused of knowingly withholding national defense information and being part of a scheme to delete security video. He faces more than three charges, all of which he has pleaded not guilty to.

The case is one of four criminal charges against Trump. He also faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 presidential election and falsifying business records related to hushed-up payments to an adult movie star. He pleaded not guilty to all these charges.



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