U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has canceled tentative plans to have a hearing on August 24 on a protective order for classified evidence in the case against President Donald Trump for documents kept at his Mar-a-Lago residence.
She said in a Thursday order that the proceeding will take place under seal at another time “and place to discuss sensitive, security-related issues concerning classified discovery.”
Judge 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 possible protective order, which will lay out the rules for how classified evidence is handled in the discovery phase.
The judge’s move to announce the hearing will be sealed even when court submissions that weigh in on the prosecutor’s request for the protective order have been filed publicly. The protective order is a Section 3 motion under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).
It remains unclear from the judge’s latest order if she intended to announce where and when the sealed hearing would be publicly at a later date.
Law experts on CIPA law — which sets the protocols and timeline for resolving how classified evidence should be handled in a case — say that while several of the steps laid out by the law usually happen in secret, at least a few proceedings, including those related to Section 3 can occasionally take place in at least partially in public view.
So far, the classified documents case proceedings have been less accessible than the approach taken in the Washington, D.C. federal court, where Trump was indicted for his 2020 alleged election subversion plots, and at the courthouses in New York City and Atlanta, where Trump also faces criminal charges. The Florida proceedings have been playing out in Cannon’s Fort Pierce, Florida courtroom.
Trump’s lawyers, special counsel Smith disagree on where Trump’s team can review evidence
Trump’s lawyers and special counsel Jack Smith’s office disagree over the prosecutors’ proposed rules for the former president to discuss the classified evidence handed over to the defense with his lawyers. Former President Trump has asked to be allowed to reestablish a secure facility at his residence that was used. At the same time, he was president to hold similar discussions. Smith’s team argues that an accommodation like that would be unprecedented and that his Florida residence also serves a purpose as a “social club,” which makes such a set-up particularly unworkable.
In the meantime, Trump’s aide and co-defendant Walt Nauta is pushing back against the proposed requirement from Smith’s team that he seek permission from the court or government before reviewing specific classified evidence.
Nauta, Trump, and de Oliveira have pleaded not guilty to the charges, including multiple alleged incidences of obstruction and several counts of mishandling national defense information for the former president.