Judge Bans Donald Trump From Taking Classified Documents to Mar-A-Lago, Warns of Penalties
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has given a strong warning and set restrictions on former President Donald Trump's access to confidential documents, notably at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, in a significant milestone in the legal battles involving Trump. The judgment is in response to the criminal case in which Trump is accused of keeping sensitive data after leaving the White House.
During Trump's trial in Florida, Judge Cannon, a Trump appointment herself, addressed the sensitive issue of handling secret information. Judge Cannon argued that national security reasons exceeded Trump's preferences amid calls to create a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) at Mar-a-Lago for secure document access.
She directed the Classified Information Security Officers (CISOs) to build a secure working space within an existing secure facility for Trump's defense team. “The defense shall discuss classified information only within the SCIF or in an area authorized by the CISO,” Cannon wrote. “The CISO shall establish procedures to assure a SCIF is accessible during business hours to the defense, and at other times upon reasonable request as approved by the CISO in consultation with the Court and United States Marshals Service.”
Judge Aileen Cannon has issued a protective order limiting Donald Trump's access to evidence in the classified documents case while also barring him from publicly discussing sensitive material.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 13, 2023
The order is largely in line with the proposal submitted by Jack Smith's team.
"The SCIF shall contain a working area for the defense and will be outfitted with any secure office equipment requested by the defense that is reasonable and necessary to the preparation of the Defendant's case," stated Judge Cannon in her ruling. She stated, "The limitations on disclosure of classified information set forth in this Order are binding on Defendant and his counsel and violations may result in criminal and/or civil penalties."
This decision emphasizes the charges against Trump, which include the retention of hundreds of secret documents after he departed from the White House in January 2021, some of which contained national defense material. The case does not just involve Trump, but also his valet, Walt Nauta, and a Mar-a-Lago employee, Carlos De Oliveira, who reportedly tried to destroy video surveillance footage of them transporting boxes carrying secret information during a subpoena, reports Raw Story.
Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira, all three defendants, have pled not guilty to the accusations. Judge Cannon's latest order adds another degree of complication to the case, which has been the focus of judicial scrutiny and public interest.
Specifically, in its renewed motion for a CISA protective order, the government explained, those remaining issues were: "(1) Defendant Nauta objects to language that limits his personal access to classified information, as opposed to access by his cleared counsel; and (2)…— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) September 13, 2023
In a related event, CNBC reported that, despite Trump's objections, Judge Cannon's decision was consistent with the constraints set by special counsel Jack Smith's team. While the order highlights the importance of secure classified information handling, it does not specifically address Trump's proposal to create a SCIF at Mar-a-Lago. Smith had objected to this request, noting the location's apparent connection to the crime.
Furthermore, Judge Cannon's injunction prohibits Trump from publicly addressing any classified evidence, even if it becomes public without official declassification. This ruling upholds the materials' classified status and highlights the need for enhanced security measures.
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