Judge in Trump Case Denies Government’s Motion to Shield Potential Witnesses

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Florida judge overseeing the Justice Department’s (DOJ) classified documents case against former US president Donald Trump rejected the government’s motion to file witnesses under seal on Monday.

Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, rejected a request from special counsel Jack Smith’s office to file a sealed list of 84 potential witnesses provided to Trump’s legal team, The Hill reported.

Smith’s office filed the motion last week alongside a request to delay the trial and also set a pretrial hearing for issues regarding the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).

“The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary; it does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal,” Cannon wrote in the order Monday.

The former president was barred from speaking with his aide, Walt Nauta, who is also charged in the case, and the witnesses about the case during his arraignment earlier this month.

Cannon added that a coalition of news organizations also opposed the government’s request to keep the witness list under seal by citing the First Amendment. The news organizations, including The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post, filed a motion to intervene Monday in opposition to the government’s request.

“This case—the first prosecution of a former President of the United States—is one of the most consequential criminal cases in the Nation’s history. The American public’s interest in this matter, and need to monitor its progress every step of the way, cannot be overstated,” the press coalition wrote in its filing.

“The filing of the list of potential witnesses in this case is a highly significant initial step in this extraordinary prosecution. It will mark the first time that the Court has instructed the Government to inform Trump of the identities of persons who may offer testimony that prosecutors believe will incriminate him,” the motion read.

Trump was indicted with 37 federal counts that accuse him of mishandling classified documents and attempting to keep those documents from the government earlier this month. Cannon set an initial Aug. 14 trial date for the case, a date that the special counsel motioned to get moved to Dec. 11.

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