Former President Donald Trump arrived at a federal courthouse in Florida on Feb. 12 for a closed hearing in his case involving classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.
The hearing, held in Fort Pierce, is taking place in a secure Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, which is used for the review of classified materials.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will separately hear arguments from President Trump’s attorneys and the Justice Department’s Special Counsel Jack Smith—outside of each other’s presence—regarding the procedures for handling classified evidence in the case.
“Defense counsel shall be prepared to discuss their defense theories of the case, in detail, and how any classified information might be relevant or helpful to the defense,” the judge wrote in scheduling the hearing.
The 45th president’s defense team will make their arguments in the morning, to be followed by Mr. Smith in the afternoon.
A President on Trial
President Trump’s motorcade arrived outside the courthouse just after 9 a.m. Eastern. The hearing marks the latest in a string of court appearances he has made for his various legal cases being tried up and down the East Coast.
For instance, in recent months, the native New Yorker has made several trips back to his former home state to attend New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil fraud case against him and a defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.
While the verdict in the fraud trial has been delayed, the jury in the defamation case ordered President Trump last month to pay Ms. Carroll $83 million in damages over statements he made denying allegations he sexually assaulted her.
The former president is also fending off criminal charges in two cases surrounding his challenge of the 2020 presidential election results and the Jan. 6 Capitol breach that followed.
Mr. Smith is prosecuting one of those cases on behalf of the Justice Department. The second was brought by Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, who has since become embroiled in a scandal.
Recent court filings confirm that Ms. Willis initially failed to disclose that she is in a “personal relationship” with attorney Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor she hired to assist with her investigation of President Trump.
Allegations of a romantic relationship between the two surfaced last month in a court filing by Michael Roman, one of President Trump’s co-defendants. The filing also alleged that Mr. Wade used funds he received from his work on the case to pay for expensive vacations and dinners that he shared with Ms. Willis.
Both Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade claim that their relationship did not turn romantic until after he was hired. But Terrence Bradley, Mr. Wade’s former associate and divorce attorney, has vowed to testify that the relationship actually began in January 2021, before Ms. Willis became district attorney, according to Mr. Roman’s lawyers.
President Trump’s attorneys have called for the case to be dismissed in light of the allegations.
Another legal dilemma the former president is facing is the question of whether he is legally eligible to hold the presidency again.
The Colorado Supreme Court has decided that he’s not, ordering that his name be stricken from the state’s primary ballot based on an untested interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause. Maine shortly followed suit.
As numerous other states are weighing similar challenges to President Trump’s eligibility, the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in to determine if the Colorado ruling was valid.
“I think that the question that you have to confront is why a single state should decide who gets to be president of the United States,” Justice Elena Kagan told attorney Jason Murray, representing President Trump’s Colorado challengers, at a Feb. 8 hearing.
“This question of whether a former president is disqualified for insurrection to be president again—it sounds awfully national to me,” the judge said. “So, whatever means there are to enforce it would suggest that they have to be federal, national means.”
And she wasn’t the only skeptic on the court.
In fact, several justices appeared concerned with what might happen if they allowed the lower court’s ruling to stand.
“I would expect that a goodly number of states will say, whoever the Democratic candidate is, ‘You’re off the ballot.’ And others, for the Republican candidate, ‘You’re off the ballot,’” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “It will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. That’s a pretty daunting consequence.”
President Trump maintains that all of the court battles he is fighting are just another attempt to keep him from reclaiming the White House.
“I consider it to be more election interference by the Democrats—that’s what they’re doing,” he told reporters after the Supreme Court hearing. “The good news is we’re leading in virtually every poll.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times