‘Avoid further delay’: Feds want judge to push defense team for protective order for Trump classified documents

Federal prosecutors, suggesting Donald Trump’s lawyers have been slow to respond, asked the judge overseeing the former President’s classified records case Monday to push the defense to move faster.

Under the Classified Information Procedures Act, which governs the handling of sensitive government documents, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is expected to enter a protective order authored by prosecutors that among other things confines the handling of documents to a restricted viewing room, forbids the viewing or discussion of the documents by unauthorized people, and sets up close supervision of the filing of court motions by a security officer.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to a 37-count indictment accusing him of Espionage Act violations by allegedly hoarding classified documents and trying to prevent federal authorities from recovering them. Personal aide Waltine Nauta, a co-defendant, also has pleaded not guilty.

Cannon is scheduled to preside over her first hearing in the case in Fort Pierce on Tuesday. The discussion is to focus on how all of the sensitive papers would be handled at trial under the CIPA, which became law in 1980. It is designed to balance the defendants’ right to access documentary evidence that prosecutors intend to use, with the U.S. Government’s efforts to keep the national security-related information secret.

Under CIPA, the judge is supposed to issue an order “to protect against the disclosure of any classified information disclosed by the United States to any defendant in any criminal case,” according to the government’s filing.

Without naming names, prosecutors working for Special Counsel Jack Smith suggested in the Monday filing that the defense has been slow to respond to the government’s proposed order, which prosecutors say was reviewed by a security officer.

Last Wednesday, the government said it sent its proposed order to the defense. And last Friday, two days later, “counsel for the Defendants informed the Government that they intend to object to certain provisions of the proposed protective order, but did not specify any such provisions.”

The order cannot be issued until the defense has outlined what it might be looking for.

Government: Time is tight

By email, prosecutors suggested to the defense that the two sides conduct a conversation last Friday, the filing said, but the defense said its lawyers didn’t have the time and suggested a discussion for this week.

“Government counsel responded that the Government did not want to delay filing this motion because a protective order needed to be entered prior to the provision of classified discovery, that Government counsel would be available for a call over the weekend, and that it would be helpful for defense counsel to identify the provisions they found objectionable,” the filing says.

“Government counsel has not heard further from defense counsel since sending that email on July 14, but is filing this motion now to avoid further delay,” the prosecution team added.

Since the judge’s entry of a protective order “is necessary to provide any classified discovery to the Defendants,” the prosecutors said, they asked Cannon “to require the Defendants to file an expedited schedule on any objections to the proposed protective order.”

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