Plans to hold a hearing on a protective order for secret information in the Mar-a-Lago documents lawsuit against former President Donald Trump on August 25 have been tentatively canceled by US District Judge Aileen Cannon.
In a ruling issued on Thursday, she stated that the procedure would be held under secrecy at a later date “to discuss sensitive, security-related issues regarding classified discovery.”
Cannon ordered Carlos De Oliveira, the most recent co-defendant in the case, until August 22 to submit any briefing he wishes to provide on the proposed protective order, which will establish the guidelines for how classified data is handled in discovery.
While court comments weighing in on the prosecutors’ request for the protective order, known as a Section 3 motion under the Classified Information Procedures Act, have been filed publicly, Cannon’s decision to declare the hearing will be sealed comes at the same time. The judge’s most recent ruling did not make it apparent whether she intended to publicly announce the time and location of the sealed hearing at a later time.
CIPA law experts have told CNN that while many of the steps outlined by the law typically take place in secret, at least some proceedings, including those related to Section 3, can occasionally take place at least partially in public view. Section 3 of the law sets the timeline and protocols for resolving how classified evidence should be handled in a case.
The proceedings in the classified documents case have so far been less open to the public than those in federal court in Washington, DC, where Trump was indicted for his alleged plans to sabotage the 2020 election, and in the courthouses in Atlanta and New York City, where Trump is also facing criminal charges. The case is currently taking place primarily in Cannon’s courtroom in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Trump’s attorneys and the office of special counsel Jack Smith differ over the prosecutors’ suggested guidelines for when and when Trump might consult with his attorneys about sensitive information provided to the defense. Trump has asked to be permitted to reestablish a secure facility at his home that he used to hold such discussions while he was president. Smith’s team has countered that this would be an unprecedented accommodation and that Trump’s Florida home’s dual function as a “social club” makes such a set-up especially impractical.
Walt Nauta, a co-defendant and aide to Trump, is fighting the Smith’s team’s suggestion that he obtain permission from the court or the government before independently scrutinizing some sensitive evidence.
The allegations against Trump, Nauta, and de Oliveira include numerous alleged obstruction-related acts as well as several counts of improper handling of national defense material. All three have entered not guilty pleas.