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 February 1, 2024

Judge meets with Justice Department lawyers in Trump's classified docs case

In a significant legal development, special counsel Jack Smith's legal team held a confidential session with U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to delineate which records in the classified documents case involving Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago are off-limits due to sensitive information.

The closed-door meeting, conducted on Wednesday, lasted approximately three hours and aimed to address the classification of filings by the special counsel, which Trump's legal team seeks access to.

The charges

The former president faces 32 counts in Florida, including charges related to the unlawful retention of national defense records, false statements, and a conspiracy to obstruct an investigation.

The hearing was initiated at the request of Trump's lawyers, who filed a motion last month seeking "attorneys'-eyes-only access" to classified filings, intending to challenge assertions made by special counsel Jack Smith in adversarial proceedings.

The legal team has also raised concerns, alleging that Smith's team is avoiding exculpatory evidence and filed a motion to compel discovery evidence on January 16.

The outcome

The outcome of the confidential meeting holds significant implications for the trial scheduled for May 20. If Judge Cannon rules in favor of Trump's legal team, it could prompt the Justice Department to consider an appeal, introducing potential delays in the trial schedule.

The sealed hearing comes ahead of scheduled hearings on the handling of classified information in the case, governed by the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) and set for February 12 and 13.

The focus will be on Section 4 of CIPA, allowing prosecutors to request the court withhold certain material not deemed "relevant or helpful" to the defense.

The trial

The motions and hearings surround a complex legal landscape, as the defense seeks access to classified information while the special counsel endeavors to protect sensitive details.

The trial, originally slated for May, could face delays depending on the outcome of these legal proceedings.

Trump's legal team has accused Smith's team of attempting to divert attention from exculpatory evidence, alleging that senior officials possess such evidence at various government agencies.

The former president's lawyers filed a motion last month, seeking access to evidence held by entities such as the National Archives, the FBI, the Justice Department, the White House, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

While the details of the closed-door meeting remain undisclosed, the developments in the classified documents case continue to unfold, with potential ramifications on the trial's timeline and the legal strategy employed by both parties involved.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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