Prior to his federal election meddling trial, Judge Tanya Chutkan denied former President Donald Trump access to the evidence presented by federal prosecutors.
In August, a federal grand jury accused Trump of four charges, one of which was conspiracy to defraud the US. Special counsel Jack Smith of the Department of Justice has looked into Trump’s purported attempts to rig the election results, including attempts to provide fictitious slates of electors in swing states that the president lost to the Electoral College.
Trump continues to insist on his innocence and charges that the prosecution is being singled out for political reasons. Like in his previous three criminal trials, he entered a not guilty plea in this one as well.
The judge presiding over the trial, Chutkan, issued an injunction on Wednesday preventing the attorneys representing Trump from accessing certain sensitive government evidence against him.
Chutkan granted the government’s request to substitute “unclassified summary information for certain classified information” and permit prosecutors to conceal “certain classified information” from the former president.
In their move to suppress the information, the government used the Classified Information Procedures Act and Rule (CIPA). The nature of the evidence being kept by Trump’s legal team is unknown because the information is classified.
Finding in favor of Smith, Judge Chutkan concluded that the government’s summary “adequately describes any content of the withheld materials that could be considered relevant and helpful to the defense.”
Earlier in October, Trump’s legal team filed a motion of their own, asking for “attorneys’ eyes-only” access to the CIPA materials.
It is important to note right away that neither this court nor the defense can think of any instance in which the remedy requested here has been granted. “As [CIPA’s] House Report explains,’since the government is seeking to withhold classified information from the defendant, an adversary hearing with defense knowledge would defeat the very purpose of the discovery rules,'” Chutkan said, as justification for the lack of precedent.
She went on to say, “It is not possible to isolate the unclassified portions of the CIPA § 4 Motion in such a way that its arguments could be meaningfully litigated.”
Newsweek emailed the Trump campaign to request a statement.
Separate Order on Classified Evidence Issued by Aileen Cannon
A few minutes ago, Judge Aileen Cannon, who is in charge of the federal trial concerning the classified materials discovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, made an additional ruling regarding a CIPA order that the government had filed.
In that order, the government asked to restrict access to sensitive materials for Trump’s legal team more widely by using a different CIPA regulation.
But Cannon rejected their argument, saying it lacked “merit.” Federal prosecutors must use the “proper mechanism” to obtain this, according to Cannon, even in cases where the special counsel “meets its burden to restrict from defendants whatever quantity of classified information it seeks to restrict.”