US District Judge Aileen Cannon has canceled tentative plans to hold a hearing on August 25 on a protective order for classified evidence in the Mar-a-Lago documents case against former President Donald Trump.
She said in an order Thursday that the proceeding will take place under seal at a different time “and place to discuss sensitive, security-related issues concerning classified discovery.”
Cannon gave the newest co-defendant in the case, Carlos De Oliveira, until August 22 to submit any briefing he wants to offer on the proposed protective order, which will set the rules for how classified evidence is handled in discovery.
Cannon’s move to announce the hearing will be a sealed one comes even as court submissions 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. It was not clear from the judge’s latest order whether she intended to publicly announce at a later date when and where the sealed hearing would be.
Experts on CIPA law – which sets the timeline and protocols for resolving how classified evidence should be handled in a case – have told CNN that while many of the steps laid out by the law usually happen in secret, at least some proceedings, including those related to Section 3 can sometimes take place at least partially in public view.
So far, the proceedings in the classified documents case – which are largely playing out in Cannon’s courtroom in Fort Pierce, Florida – have been less accessible than the approach taken in federal court in Washington, DC, where Trump was indicted for his 2020 alleged election subversion plots, and in the courthouses in Atlanta and New York City where Trump is also facing criminal charges.
Lawyers for Trump and special counsel Jack Smith’s office disagree over the prosecutors’ proposed rules for where Trump can discuss with his lawyers classified evidence handed over to the defense. Trump has asked to be allowed to reestablish a secure facility at his residence that he used while he was president to hold such discussions, while Smith’s team has argued that such an accommodation would be unprecedented and that his Florida residence dual purpose as a “social club” makes such a set-up especially unworkable.
Meanwhile, Trump’s co-defendant and aide Walt Nauta is pushing back against the Smith’s team proposed requirement that he seek permission from the court or government before reviewing certain classified evidence himself.
Trump, Nauta and de Oliveira have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include multiple alleged obstruction-related offenses, and for Trump, several counts of mishandling national defense information.