Judge restricts Trump's ability to publicly speak about classified docs case

September 16, 2023
Robert Ayers

The judge overseeing the classified documents case that has been brought against former President Donald Trump has placed restrictions on how Trump is allowed to speak about the documents at the center of the dispute. 

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon also placed restrictions on where Trump could access the documents, the New York Times reports.

This is the same classified documents case that special counsel Jack Smith has brought against Trump - the same case that saw the unprecedented FBI raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in August 2022. Smith alleges that Trump mishandled classified documents when he departed from the White House.

Trump, however, has insisted that he has done nothing wrong and that Smith's prosecution of him is political in nature.

What's going on?

As part of the legal discovery process, Smith and the government must hand over classified documents to Trump. Smith, ostensibly concerned with protecting the contents of the documents, has sought to place restrictions on Trump's ability to view and speak about the documents.

This has led to much back and forth between Trump's legal team, Smith's legal team, and the court.

Initially, the back and forth was about Trump's ability to view and speak about the documents. The reader may remember that Smith tried to prevent Trump from even reviewing the documents. More recently, the back and forth has been about where Trump can view the documents.

The Times reports:

The dispute about how and where Mr. Trump could talk about the secret papers in the case began last month when his lawyers asked Judge Cannon to allow him to re-establish the sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, “at or near” Mar-a-Lago that he once used for classified materials when he was president.

Smith, however, objected, arguing that Mar-a-Lago is, essentially, not sufficiently secure - even though the area would be protected by the Secret Service.

Cannon sides with the prosecution

Judge Cannon issued her ruling on the matter on Wednesday.  In her ruling, Cannon, by and large, sided with Smith and the prosecution.

The Times reports:

In her order, which came one day after a sealed hearing on these issues in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., Judge Cannon granted the government’s motion for a protective order over the classified materials in full, not merely in part, suggesting she agreed with everything the prosecutors had asked for. That would appear to include the request by prosecutors to keep Mr. Trump from re-opening his SCIF at Mar-a-Lago.

Cannon, however, did not designate a particular location for the SCIF.

Cannon, in the order, also prohibited Trump from publicly speaking about any document that is marked "classified," even documents in the public domain that have not explicitly been declassified.

Trump, at the time of this writing, has not commented on Cannon's latest ruling.

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