Trump Lawyers Ask Judge for Access to Secret Classified Documents

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
December 28, 2023Trump Indictment
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Trump Lawyers Ask Judge for Access to Secret Classified Documents
(Left) Special counsel Jack Smith. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images) / (Right) Former President Donald Trump. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump again called on a federal judge to allow them access to classified documents that federal prosecutors want to redact in the government’s case against the former president.

In a court filing submitted Wednesday in Florida, his attorneys rejected claims made by special counsel Jack Smith’s team that some materials in the case are too sensitive to be disclosed.

The special counsel’s office, they argued, “presented the frivolous claim that the ‘contours’ and ‘extent’ of the motion were too sensitive to be disclosed to” the former president, while rejecting arguments that Mr. Smith made that “some paragraphs” that are “marked as unclassified” can run the “risk revealing classified information if linked to the Government’s Section 4 motion by identifying topics at issue in the motion.”

“The Office makes no effort to identify which paragraphs they are referencing, or to explain the purported ‘risks’ that would arise from the attorneys’-eyes-only disclosures that President Trump seeks,” his lawyers wrote. “Like the earlier motion, this is another example of a casual argument made by prosecutors who have grown too comfortable operating in the shadows and away from defense scrutiny, and overly solicitous of Intelligence Community preferences for clandestine filings.”

Earlier in December, his attorneys asked for access to the classified materials after Mr. Smith filed them under Section 4 of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), a series of rules that governs how to handle materials in court cases. They said that some of the materials that the special counsel’s office filed aren’t actually classified.

“CIPA does not apply to unclassified information. Thus, there is no basis for withholding these aspects of the Office’s filing from cleared counsel,” President Trump’s lawyers wrote Wednesday.

They added: “Under those circumstances, it is extraordinary, unprecedented, and improper for the Special Counsel’s Office to try to withhold such information from the defense as the Office seeks to use this prosecution to target the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election.”

Toward the end of the filing, they wrote that the former president wants the presiding judge in the case to order Mr. Smith’s office to provide them with access to all submissions under CIPA Section 4 and to file those redacted materials on the public docket.

Wednesday’s filing came in response to a motion of opposition that was filed by federal prosecutors on Dec. 20 that asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to deny requests from President Trump and co-defendants Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira—who were also charged in connection to the case. They argued that “one of the three defendants” can “provide any reason” to justify “a deviation from the normal process.”

Prosecutors under Mr. Smith also rejected Trump attorney arguments that the former president had prior access to classified materials in his role as commander-in-chief.

A classified security clearance “is not an automatic entitlement to classified information; an individual must also have a need-to-know the information, and no counsel or defendant has a need-to-know the information the Government seeks to withhold from Trump and his counsel,” prosecutors wrote.

The former president was indicted earlier this year on dozens of counts of allegedly mishandling classified documents at his Florida residence, coming months after an unprecedented FBI raid targeting his home. He faces charges of retaining classified information, obstructing justice, and making false statements, among other crimes.

The top charges carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. The former president has denied wrongdoing in the case and has pleaded not guilty.

No Delay Yet

Last month, Judge Cannon ruled that she would not delay his upcoming trial, calling a request by the former president’s defense lawyers to postpone the date “premature.” However, the judge pushed back other deadlines in the case and signaled that she would revisit the trial date later.

President Trump’s lawyers had argued that they needed more time to review the large trove of evidence with which they’d been presented and also cited scheduling challenges resulting from the other legal cases against him, including three additional criminal prosecutions for which he is awaiting trial. The special counsel’s team had vigorously opposed that position in urging the judge to leave the trial date intact.

The judge made note of the “unusually high volume of classified and unclassified evidence” involved in the case, as well as the fact that President Trump is currently scheduled next March to face both a federal trial in Washington and a trial on state charges in New York.

“Although the Special Counsel is correct that the trajectory of these matters potentially remains in flux, the schedules as they currently stand overlap substantially with the deadlines in this case, presenting additional challenges to ensuring Defendant Trump has adequate time to prepare for trial and to assist in his defense,” she wrote.

President Trump is currently set for trial on March 4, 2024, in Washington on federal charges relating to the 2020 presidential election. He also faces charges in Georgia accusing him of trying to allegedly subvert that state’s vote, as well as another state case in New York accusing him of falsifying business records in 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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