(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump has arrived for a hearing Monday in his classified documents case that is being held in a special secure facility due to the sensitive nature of the materials involved.
The hearing, in Fort Pierce, Florida, is being held under seal in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF — a specially-equipped secure room for viewing highly classified materials.
Trump’s co-defendants in the case, aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira, are not attending the hearing as they do not have clearance to access classified information.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the case, is hearing arguments from attorneys for Trump and his two co-defendants on their “defense theories of the case” and how “any classified information might be relevant or helpful to the defense,” according to a court filing detailing the schedule.
Special counsel Jack Smith will then present arguments to Judge Canon outside the presence of Trump’s attorneys.
The judge also asked the parties to reserve Tuesday for further proceedings “as necessary.”
During pretrial proceedings, Smith’s team and Trump’s attorneys have clashed over how much discovery information should be redacted — or completely withheld from public view — in certain court filings.
Judge Cannon previously ruled that Smith’s team must file a cache of documents on the public docket, but in a motion last week Smith urged Cannon to reconsider her ruling, saying that doing so would, among other things, reveal the names of potential witnesses in the case, “exposing them to significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment.”
“These risks are far from speculative in this case,” Smith argued in his filing. “Witnesses, agents, and judicial officers in this very case have been harassed and intimidated, and the further outing of additional witnesses will pose a similarly intolerable risk of turning their lives upside down.”
Smith is asking the judge to suspend her ruling until the matter is resolved, suggesting that he might try to appeal the ruling to a higher court if Cannon doesn’t reverse course.
The case is currently scheduled to go to trial on May 20, but ongoing disputes between the parties could delay that date.
Trump has been attempting to delay the trial for several months. In a court filing last year, Trump’s attorneys argued that the extraordinary nature of the case means there should be no reason to expedite the trial.
“Thus, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A), based on the extraordinary nature of this action, there is most assuredly no reason for any expedited trial, and the ends of justice are best served by a continuance,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
Trump was indicted last June for allegedly refusing to return hundreds of classified documents and thwarting the government’s efforts to get them back. The former president has pleaded not guilty and denied all wrongdoing.
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