The federal judge overseeing the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump delivered multiple blows to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s efforts in a brief Monday.
Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida – who is presiding over the case stemming from a Miami grand jury’s June indictment of Trump – denied the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request for sealed filings, striking two from the record. Cannon also requested additional information from prosecutors regarding the continued use of an out-of-state grand jury to investigate the case.
“The Special Counsel states in conclusory terms that the supplement should be sealed from public view ‘to comport with grand jury secrecy,’ but the motion for leave and the supplement plainly fail to satisfy the burden of establishing a sufficient legal or factual basis to warrant sealing the motion and supplement,” Cannon wrote in the brief, denying the DOJ’s request.
“Among other topics as raised in the Motion, the response shall address the legal propriety of using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the instant indicted matter in this district,” she continued in the brief.
The filing Monday came in response to the special counsel’s request for a hearing to examine the defense attorney Stanley Woodward’s potential conflicts of interest. Woodward – who represents Waltine Nauta, a Trump aide listed as a co-defendant in the case – also represents three individuals who may be called to testify in the case.
Cannon gave counsel for Nauta until Aug. 17 to file a response to the motion for a hearing. She gave prosecutors until Aug. 22 to file a brief in support of the hearing.
The latest action in the case comes about nine months before the scheduled trial. Cannon previously set the case to go to trial on May 20, 2024, amid the Republican presidential primaries.
Trump is accused of 37 counts, including willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Nauta is charged with six counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, and also pleaded not guilty. A third defendant Carlos De Oliveira, a property manager at Mar-A-Lago, is accused by the special counsel of working with Trump to hide security footage.
“Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice. And our nation’s commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world,” Smith said on June 9. “We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone. Applying those laws. Collecting facts. That’s what determines the outcome of an investigation. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
“The prosecutors in my office are among the most talented and experienced in the Department of Justice,” he continued. “They have investigated this case hewing to the highest ethical standards. And they will continue to do so as this case proceeds.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.