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Judge Orders Sealed Hearing for Protective Order in Trump Classified Documents Case

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


In a case the Department of Justice brought in Florida against former President Donald Trump, his aide Waltine Nauta, and his Mar-a-Lago property manager, Carlos De Oliveira, for allegedly mishandling classified documents, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon canceled a scheduled hearing on August 25.

Judge Cannon ordered a sealed hearing on the request for a protective order under the Classified Information Protection Act. Each defendant has entered a not-guilty plea.

The hearing “will take place at a designated time and place to discuss sensitive, security-related issues concerning classified discovery,” she wrote in the order.

Any motion for a protective order against Mr. de Oliveira must be submitted by August 22 in order to be considered at the closed hearing, which the defendants are not required to attend.

Special Counsel Jack Smith asked for a protective order last month to limit the information that President Trump’s defense attorneys can disclose to him and his co-defendants.

“This case involves classified information,” the July filing reads. “When classified information is involved, protective orders are to be issued whenever the government discloses classified information to a defendant in connection with a prosecution.”

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The Epoch Times reported:

President Trump opposed any order that would prevent discussing the case with his legal team and asked for the approval of a secure location to do so.

He has asked for a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) to be restored at his Mar-a-Lago resort so that he and his legal team can discuss the classified information in the case regularly. There was previously one established, his lawyers said in an August filing, noting that the secure location has 24-hour security protection and that they would use the space to discuss but not review classified information.

Mr. Smith’s team argued against the motion, calling it “extraordinary” and claiming that President Trump was seeking “special treatment that no other criminal defendant would receive and that is unsupported by law or precedent.”

Trump entered a not-guilty plea to 37 counts in June. The former president was charged with unlawfully retaining 31 government documents, including some that were top secret, according to the historic indictment, which follows the April indictment in New York.

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Additionally, the indictment claims that twice in 2021, President Trump may have violated the federal Espionage Act by showing others classified documents. Penalties for the most serious offenses can range up to 20 years in prison.

Late in July, a fourth defendant and three additional felonies for conspiring to destroy evidence were added, and both Mr. De Oliveira and President Trump pleaded not guilty.

Judge Cannon delayed the case’s original December trial date after requests to move it back were made, and now it will be tried in May 2024.

Last week, Smith filed a superseding indictment against Trump, which included new charges related to the willful retention of national defense information and obstruction. The prosecutors alleged that Trump and his aides were involved in instructing a staff member at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida to delete security camera footage deliberately. Smith alleged the action was taken with the intention of preventing the presentation of evidence to a federal grand jury.

Trump, however, denied the allegations categorically and said he ensured his legal team handed over any and all requested security footage unaltered.

“Mar-a-Lago security tapes were not deleted,” Trump wrote on TRUTH Social. “They were voluntarily handed over to the thugs, headed up by deranged Jack Smith. We did not even go to court to stop them from getting these tapes. I never told anybody to delete them. Prosecutorial fiction & misconduct! Election interference!”

In a subsequent post, he compared the current allegations against him to the “Russia, Russia, Russia hoax.”

In a separate case, Trump was indicted again by Smith stemming from his investigation into the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

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