Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
A federal judge has denied special counsel Jack Smith's request to keep some documents hidden in former President Donald Trump's classified documents case.
Judge Aileen Cannon, who's overseeing the trial in former President Donald Trump's classified documents case, has rejected a motion by special counsel Jack Smith to keep some documents hidden from President Trump's defense.
In an order signed on Dec. 4, Judge Cannon directed a court clerk to unseal multiple documents that Mr. Smith's team sought to keep sealed in the case that accuses the former president of retaining sensitive government materials, including some that were marked top secret, at his Mar-a-Lago home.
President Trump has said he used presidential powers to declassify the materials, insisting that he isn't guilty and calling the case an attempt by his political foes to hamper his 2024 presidential run.
The former president's longtime aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira have been named as co-defendants in the case; both also have pleaded not guilty.
President Trump's defense team and Mr. Smith's prosecutors have been litigating over what portion of classified materials the defendants are allowed to view, with the judge's latest decision delivering a win of sorts for the co-defendants.
"In light of the Special Counsel's Response to Defendants Motion to Unseal 230, and mindful of the strong presumption in favor of public access to judicial documents, the Clerk is directed to unseal docket entries 223, 224, and 230," Judge Cannon's Dec. 4 order reads.
The newly unsealed docket entry 230, a response by prosecutors to a Dec. 1 court order, shows that Mr. Smith's team agreed to unseal the documents, as requested by the defense, although prosecutors insisted on some redactions.
"The defendants did not oppose the Government's request, but reserved the right to challenge the redactions later," the document reads.
Mr. Smith's team also revealed in the newly unsealed court filing that prosecutors initially opposed unsealing 223 and 224 because it "would have revealed to defense counsel information, albeit unclassified, about the contours of the Government's planned CIPA Section 4 motion," meaning that it risked giving President Trump's legal team an opportunity to more effectively counter Mr. Smith's moves.
President Trump has been charged with retaining national defense information, meaning that his case will be tried under the complex rules laid out in the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), which governs how those documents can be used in court.
A CIPA Section 4 motion asks the judge to redact certain information from the classified documents that are turned over to the defense.
The seven-stage CIPA process is sequential, meaning that one stage has to be completed before going on to the next. A key issue is that a delay at one stage of the CIPA process can affect the entire trial schedule.
President Trump's attorneys wanted the trial to take place after the 2024 election, while Mr. Smith's team has pushed for a faster timetable.
Mr. Smith said in the 230 filing that the reason he no longer opposes keeping the documents hidden from the public is that the court earlier ordered full, unredacted versions of the 223 and 224 docket entries to be provided to President Trump's lawyers.
"Because the Court rejected that position and ordered the Government to provide unredacted versions of the two docket entries to defense counsel, there is no justification for keeping them from the public," the special counsel wrote.
In a recent ruling in the classified documents case, Judge Cannon granted in part and denied in part the defense's request to postpone deadlines, including the trial.
Possible Change to Trial Date
While Judge Cannon denied the defense's motion to change the trial date, she said a delay would "be considered at a scheduling conference on March 1, 2024," which is just three days before President Trump's trial is set to start in another case that Mr. Smith is prosecuting in Washington.
Citing the "high volume" of classified discovery, the judge wrote that it's "most prudent, given the evolving complexities in this matter, to adjust the first batch of pre-trial deadlines." She said that she couldn't "ignore the realities" of President Trump's several other trial schedules.
The order sets new deadlines for discovery, including a joint discovery status report on Jan. 9, 2024, and a pretrial motions deadline for Feb. 22, 2024, the last deadline before the rest of the trial schedule will be decided after a March 1, 2024, hearing.
In Washington, Mr. Smith is prosecuting President Trump in a case that accuses him of illegally interfering with the 2020 elections, and the trial is set for March 4, 2024.
Defense attorneys have said numerous times that they need time to go through 1.3 million pages of unclassified discovery, 5,500 pages of classified discovery, and 60 terabytes of security video footage.
Defense attorneys have said they will seek to compel additional material from the special counsel's office and from the FBI.
The special counsel's office, meanwhile, is seeking to prevent some of the already-produced classified discovery from the defendants.
Catherine Yang contributed to this report.