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Judge blocks release of discovery materials in Trump documents case

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A federal judge put a protective order in place Monday to shield all discovery materials from the public in the case against former President Donald Trump.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said all the materials that prosecutors turn over to Trump’s attorneys must remain out of public view.

Trump, alleged co-conspirator Walt Nauta, and their attorneys “shall not disclose the Discovery Materials or their contents directly or indirectly to any person or entity other than persons employed to assist in the defense, persons who are interviewed as potential witnesses, counsel for potential witnesses, and other persons” allowed by the court.

In addition, defense attorneys must have everyone read the judge’s order and sign a document saying they will comply with it before being granted access to the materials. Furthermore, Trump and Nauta won’t get copies of the records.

“Defendants shall only have access to Discovery Materials under the direct supervision of Defense Counsel or a member of Defense Counsel’s staff. Defendants shall not retain copies of Discovery Material,” according to the order.

Federal prosecutors filed a motion seeking the protective order Friday. On Monday, the judge agreed.

Prosecutors laid out a list of reasons for the protective order, including “personal identifiable information; information that reveals sensitive but unclassified investigative techniques; non-public information relating to potential witnesses and other third parties (including grand jury transcripts and exhibits and recordings of witness interviews); financial information of third parties; third-party location information; and personal information contained on electronic devices and accounts.”

Prosecutors further said some the information related to ongoing investigations.

“The materials also include information pertaining to ongoing investigations, the disclosure of which could compromise those investigations and identify uncharged individuals,” according to the government’s motion.

Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 counts that allege he kept sensitive military documents, shared them with people who didn’t have security clearance, and tried to get around the government’s efforts to get them back. He is charged with 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information along with conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, scheme to conceal and false statements and representations.

The 49-page indictment laid out the charges against Trump and Nauta. Trump was charged with keeping classified documents after leaving office and later obstructing the government’s efforts to get them back. The indictment contains specific dates and times with to-the-minute details of where the documents were stored, where they were moved, and who was involved.

Among the records were 197 that contained classified markings, including 98 marked “secret” and 30 marked “top secret.” The “top secret” designation means that unauthorized disclosure “reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage” to national security,” according to the indictment. Trump turned those records over to the National Archives and Records Administration on Jan. 17, 2022, in response to demands from that federal agency.

On June 3, 2022, an attorney for Trump provided the Federal Bureau of Investigation with 38 additional documents with classified markings. And during a raid of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8, 2022, the FBI recovered 102 additional documents with classified markings.

While the U.S. Secret Service provided security to Trump while he was at his Palm Beach property, Trump never told the agency that classified documents were stored there, according to the indictment. Mar-a-Lago hosted 150 social events – such as weddings, fundraisers and movie premieres for tens of thousands of guests from January 2021, when Trump left office, through the FBI raid on Aug. 8, 2022. Mar-a-Lago had about 150 employees during that time, prosecutors said in the indictment.

Prosecutors allege the documents belong to some of the nation’s most secret agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, the Department of Energy and the Department of State.

The documents contained information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of the United States and other allied nations, U.S. nuclear programs, plans for possible retaliation in case of an attack and potential U.S. vulnerabilities, according to the indictment.

Trump stored the boxes in several locations at Mar-a-Lago, his social club with 25 guest rooms in Palm Beach. The boxes that contained classified documents were stored in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom and a storage room, prosecutors alleged in the indictment.

The club was not authorized to store classified documents.

Prosecutors further alleged that Trump showed classified documents to people not authorized to see such records. In one case on July 21, 2021, at the Bedminster Club in New Jersey, Trump allegedly showed a writer, a publisher and two staff members classified documents. During the recorded interview, Trump said that the documents were “highly classified” and that could have declassified them while president, but could no longer do so after leaving office, according to the indictment. In August or September 2021, prosecutors allege Trump showed a representative of his political action committee a classified map of a country.

In April, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts in New York related to charges he paid hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels through a lawyer before the 2016 presidential election and covered it up as a legal expense before being elected president.

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