Trump documents case judge sets hearing on protective order

Aileen M. Cannon, United States District Judge, Southern District of Florida

Courtesy: US Courts

A Florida federal judge on Thursday said she would hold a hearing sealed from the public to discuss prosecutors’ request for an order to protect classified material at the heart of a criminal case against former President Donald Trump.

The hearing “will take place at a designated time and place to discuss sensitive, security-related issues concerning classified discovery,” Judge Aileen Cannon said in a written order.

Cannon did not say in the order where and when that hearing will occur.

But she said that Trump and his co-defendants in the case, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, did not have to attend the hearing.

Trump is charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida with crimes related to retaining classified government records after leaving the White House and trying to cover up the fact that he was keeping those documents in boxes at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.

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Nauta, who is Trump’s valet, and De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker, are accused of participating in the cover-up effort. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Special counsel Jack Smith, whose office is prosecuting Trump, is asking Cannon to order that the former president and his defense lawyers be allowed to discuss classified information only within special secured locations, known as sensitive compartmented information facilities, or SCIFs.

Smith opposes Trump’s suggestion that a SCIF be built at Mar-a-Lago or another of his residences for that purpose.

In a court filing this week, Smith blasted that idea, saying Trump is seeking “special treatment that no other defendant would receive.”

“He is asking to be the only defendant ever in a case involving classified information (at least to the Government’s knowledge) who would be able to discuss classified information in a private residence,” Smith wrote in the filing.