A federal judge on Monday rejected a request by special counsel Jack Smith to keep secret a list of 84 potential witnesses in the prosecution of former President Donald Trump for his handling of classified documents.
Federal prosecutors had asked US District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, to keep a secret list of witnesses with whom Trump could not communicate directly.
In his order, Cannon said prosecutors did not explain why it was necessary to keep the names secret, or why redacting or partially sealing the document would be inappropriate.
NBC News has reached out to the special counsel’s office and the Justice Department for comment. Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, declined to comment on the order.
Trump’s lawyers «took no position» on Smith’s motion, but reserved the right to challenge aspects of it, such as implementation, according to Cannon’s order.
At Trump’s arraignment this month, federal judge Jonathan Goodman ordered Trump to sign a bond barring him from speaking to certain witnesses except through his attorneys. Goodman also asked Smith’s team to provide a list of witnesses Trump would not be able to communicate with directly.
In a filing on Friday, the government said it had provided the list to Trump’s lawyers and asked that the former president and Walt Nauta, a Trump aide and alleged co-conspirator in the case, sign an acknowledgment that they had received the list. .
“In order to implement Judge Goodman’s special condition of release, the government is preparing to submit the list of witnesses subject to the sealed ban to the Court,” Jay Bratt of Smith’s legal team wrote in the Friday filing. .
Cannon’s order was welcomed by a coalition of news organizations, including NBC News, The Associated Press, The New York Times, CBS News and others, which had argued that the case raises issues of public and historical interest that «are not addressed.» may be exaggerated» and that the witness list reflected «a turning point from the secrecy of the Grand Jury investigation to the public administration of justice involving the highest level of power in the US government.»
“We are pleased that the Court has recognized that the First Amendment requires the government to meet a very high standard to seal any part of these landmark proceedings,” Chuck Tobin, a lawyer for the press coalition, said in a statement Monday.
A federal grand jury indicted Trump on 37 counts related to keeping classified documents after he left office and hiding them from authorities, according to a filing unsealed this month. The charges come after more than 100 classified documents were discovered at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last year. Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Miami court.
In a separate order Monday, Cannon set a hearing date for July 14 to discuss how classified materials in the case will be handled, as requested by the government.
He also acceded to the government’s request to appoint a classified information security officer to assist each side with handling any motions or orders related to the Classified Information Procedures Act.
daniel barnes contributed.