Trump Wants Secure Room Restored at Mar-a-Lago to Discuss Court Case Classified Info

Petr Svab
By Petr Svab
August 10, 2023Trump Indictment
Trump Wants Secure Room Restored at Mar-a-Lago to Discuss Court Case Classified Info
This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. (Department of Justice via AP)

Former President Donald Trump is asking to have a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) reestablished at his home at the Mar-A-Lago resort so that he can discuss with his lawyers classified information involved in the court case he’s battling.

Prosecutors with Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges, have previously scoffed at Mr. Trump’s request, calling it “extraordinary,” particularly given that the case involves allegations that Mr. Trump illegally kept national defense information, including documents marked as classified, at Mar-a-Lago.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers, however, believe that in case of a former president, there are good reasons for accommodating his request.

Todd Blanche, lawyer for Mr. Trump, explained in an Aug. 9 court filing that Mr. Trump used to have a SCIF set up at his residence during his term where he was “permitted to review and discuss classified information” and that “reestablishing this secure facility is readily possible if the Court so directs.”

“The alternate secure location in which President Trump seeks to discuss (but not review) classified information is under 24-hour a day full security protection, whether President Trump is present or not,” he said (pdf).

“Furthermore, the government can re-establish a restricted area within the proposed secure location in which President Trump and his legal team can discuss classified information in a manner that is consistent with government security protocols.”

In absence of such an arrangement, Mr. Trump would have to travel to a SCIF at the facilities of either the Northern or Southern District of Florida each time his lawyers would want to talk to him about classified information involved in the case—an arrangement the lawyers called “an inappropriate, unnecessary, and unworkable restriction.”

Due to the distances, each trip would probably extend overnight, Mr. Blanche said, explaining that when Mr. Trump visits a location, his Secret Service detail comes with him and “the required security measures take significant planning and effort, as well as financial resources,” especially if the public learns about the visit beforehand.

“The public facility and surrounding area may need to be closed to the public for a significant period of time to ensure the safety of everyone, including President Trump,” he said.

Reestablishing the SCIF at Mr. Trump’s home would be “a more efficient use of government resources,” the lawyers argued.

They also criticized the prosecutors for “cavalierly, and falsely” suggesting to the court that Mr. Trump meant to discuss classified information “in his office at Mar-a-Lago” or “an unsecure area.”

“We assure the Court that the above was never suggested by defense counsel and that we and President Trump take seriously the rules surrounding the handling and discussion of classified materials,” the filing said.

“The government knows full well from our request and related conversations that defense counsel and President Trump will not discuss information the government deems classified outside of approved facilities where such information is authorized to be discussed.”

The case was brought by Mr. Smith on June 9, charging 38 counts of willful retention of national defense information, obstruction, and making false statements.

It alleges that Mr. Trump illegally “caused” boxes with some defense-related information in them to be moved to his home when leaving office and that he later directed his aide, Waltine Nauta, to move some of the boxes so they couldn’t be searched for documents that the Department of Justice (DOJ) subpoenaed in 2022.

Mr. Smith added three more charges on July 27, alleging that Mr. Trump asked his property manager at Mar-a-Lago, Carlos de Oliveira, to have security camera footage deleted after the DOJ subpoenaed some of the footage in June 2022.

Mr. Trump has stressed that no footage was deleted and denied making any such request.

The presiding district judge, Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, has set that trial for May 2024.

Mr. Trump also faces several charges, brought by Mr. Smith in the District of Columbia, related to his efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 election. Mr. Trump’s team says his efforts were to contest through legal means the results of the 2020 election. Another set of charges, for alleged falsifying of business records, was brought earlier this year by New York state prosecutor in Manhattan.

Mr. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, calling them an effort to interfere with his 2024 run for president.

Yet more charges are expected to come from a district attorney in Georgia, also related to Mr. Trump efforts to challenge the 2020 election.

From The Epoch Times

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