May 21, 2024

Classified Trump Documents Case Set for First Pretrial Congressional Hearing

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge who issued a court ruling last year that critics said was too favorable to Donald Trump is to preside on Tuesday at the first pre-trial conference in which significant criminal case regarding the mishandling of classified documents.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are scheduled to appear before US District Judge Aileen Cannon to discuss the rules and procedures that will govern how classified evidence is used in the case. It’s a routine matter for any prosecution involving classified information, but it’s notable because it’s Cannon’s first time hearing arguments in the case since the former president’s indictment last month.

A 1980 law known as the Classified Information Procedures Act is at issue during Tuesday’s arguments. That statute governs the handling of classified information by the parties to a criminal prosecution. Defendant’s rights to access evidence that prosecutors intend to use in a case are intended to be against the government’s interest in protecting sensitive and confidential information.

In this video image provided by the U.S. Senate, Aileen M. Cannon speaks remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight nomination hearing to be the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on July 29, 2020, in Washington.

Before the pre-trial conference, staff of special counsel Jack Smith Cannon asked Monday to enter a protective order that would restrict, in part, the ability of defense lawyers to share with Trump and his coder and aide, Walt Naut, classified information in the case. In seeking the order, prosecutors wrote that defense lawyers told them they “intend to object to certain provisions of the proposed protective order, but have not specified any such provisions.”

Trump and Nauta have He pleaded not guilty to a 38-count indictment which accuses them of conspiring to hide classified documents from Justice Department investigators that were taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of Trump’s term in office in January 2021.

Neither Trump nor Nauta are expected to attend Tuesday’s hearing.

Another unresolved issue that could come up on Tuesday is the trial date. Prosecutors have recommended it that the trial would begin on December 11, and lawyers for Trump, who is pursuing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, suggested that it be postponed until after the election.

Cannon also led a lawsuit filed by Trump’s team last year during the August 2022 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. Cannon drew criticism and second-guessing from legal experts for yielding to Trump’s request for a special master conduct an independent review of the classified documents the FBI removed from Mar-a-Lago.

A later a three-judge federal appeals court violated that order and said that she did not have the authority for such a ruling.

Tucker reported from Washington.

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