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 February 10, 2024

Jack Smith warns of threats against witnesses in Trump's classified docs case

The special counsel prosecuting former President Donald Trump has petitioned the judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case to reconsider an order that the government contends could jeopardize the safety and testimony of over two dozen witnesses.

Trump's legal team has requested unredacted documents, a move that special counsel Jack Smith's attorneys seek to prevent.

The concern

In a 24-page submission to a federal court in Florida, Smith's prosecutors argued that the court applied an incorrect legal standard when U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon initially ordered the unsealing of materials. In response, Cannon issued an order on Friday to postpone her original decision.

The filing highlights an exhibit containing "information about uncharged potentially obstructive conduct by a defendant, and speculation about witness tampering by an uncharged individual." Prosecutors assert that one witness declined to have their interview recorded.

Trump, along with Walt Nauta, a former personal aide, and Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago employee, faces charges to which all three have pleaded not guilty.

Smith's argument

Smith contends that publicizing the filings could expose the identities of witnesses prepared to testify against Trump, including career civil servants and former Trump advisers, as well as their statements to federal investigators and the grand jury.

The decision risks subjecting them to "significant and immediate" intimidation, the filing states, particularly after the government's efforts to safeguard their information.

The special counsel cites a "well-documented pattern" of "threats, harassment, and intimidation" against individuals involved in cases against Trump. Cannon, prosecutors note, "has suffered similar death threats."

The background

Other exhibits disclose specifics regarding the August 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, where classified documents were seized, including the names of FBI agents involved, Justice Department attorneys present, and non-public details of the property's layout.

Trump has criticized the agents involved in the "raid," likening them to "the Gestapo" and suggesting the government might plant incriminating documents.

Another exhibit addresses how two potential witnesses sought legal representation after Smith raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest for lawyers paid by Trump.

Following a change in legal representation, one witness reportedly retracted previous false testimony and provided new information to the special counsel's team, leading to a superseding indictment.

The filing also discloses Trump's team's efforts to obtain an FBI report of an interview with a former White House official who disclosed privileged information about the classification process. Trump maintains that he declassified sensitive government records seized from his residence after leaving office as the battle continues.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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