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Judge Issues Protective Order On Classified Evidence In Trump Documents Case

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida, a Trump appointee who is overseeing the case, has issued a protective order governing classified evidence in the case concerning former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left office in 2021.

According to a court document filed on Wednesday, all classified evidence must be reviewed and discussed by Trump and his attorneys in a SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility.

Trump had previously objected to that requirement, arguing that he should have access to the vast amounts of classified paperwork stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

“The Court finds that this case will involve information that has been classified in the interest of national security. The storage, handling, and control of this information will require special security precautions mandated by statute, executive order, and regulation. The purpose of this Protective Order (“Order”) is to establish the procedures that must be followed by the Defendant, defense counsel, the parties, and all other individuals who receive access to classified information or documents in connection with this case,” the order stated.

“The procedures set forth in this Order shall apply to all pre-trial, trial, post-trial, and appellate matters concerning classified information in this case and may be modified from time to time by further order of the Court acting under this Court’s inherent supervisory authority to ensure a fair and expeditious trial. The limitations on disclosure of classified information set forth in this Order are binding on Defendant and his counsel and violations may result in criminal and/or civil penalties,” the order added.

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“The Defendant may disclose classified information to the defense as necessary for the preparation of his defense. Any classified information provided to the defense by the government or the Defendant is to be used solely by the defense and solely for the purpose of preparing the defense. The defense may not disclose or cause to be disclosed in connection with this case any information known or reasonably believed to be classified information except as otherwise provided herein,” the order adds.

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents case against Trump is likely to be tossed out in large part or in full because of a procedural error, according to investigative reporter Paul Sperry.

The RealClearInvestigations correspondent cited unnamed “legal insiders” in an X platform post, writing, “DEVELOPING: Legal insiders say Jack Smith’s USC 1001 false statement charges against Trump will be tossed since Trump was never even interviewed by a federal agent.”

Also, Sperry intimated that Smith’s case is not built on substantial evidence but instead relies largely on inflammatory rhetoric meant to sway a jury.

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“NEW: Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 indictment of Trump repeatedly relies on a fuselage of subjective, even inflammatory language devoid of underlying facts and evidence to appeal emotionally to jurors, including: “fraudulent/fraudulently” (63) “false/falsely” (94) “fake” (5) “sham” (3)” he wrote in another X post.

Sperry also claimed that Smith’s case relies in large part on an “emoji.”

“DEVELOPING: Jack Smith’s Mar-a-Lago obstruction case against Trump is based on an emailed ’emoji’ related to security camera footage that was never actual [sic] destroyed, according to legal insiders,” he tweeted.

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, meanwhile, has threatened to call Smith before a congressional committee after the special counsel filed additional charges against Trump.

The felony charges — which include conspiracy to defraud the United States — are part of the investigation into alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Gaetz took Smith to task, as well as fellow Republicans, after the filing.

“House Republicans should immediately demand that Jack Smith present himself for a transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee in the next 15 days.,” Gaetz said in a Newsmax interview he posted to YouTube.

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