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Judge Aileen Cannon Denies Special Counsel’s Request For Sealed Witnesses List In Documents Case

Judge Aileen Cannon, who was randomly selected to preside over Donald Trump’s trials for his alleged retention of national defense information, denied a request from special counsel Jack Smith to file a sealed list of 84 witnesses provided to Trump’s lawyers.

Smith indicted Trump earlier this month on 37 counts that accuse him of mishandling classified documents after his time in the White House and attempting to obstruct justice by keeping them from the government. Trump was arrested and arraigned at the Miami federal courthouse and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Cannon recently announced that the trial for the case could start as early as August 14.

Along with the motion to file a sealed list of witnesses, Smith’s office also requested to delay the trial and set a pretrial hearing for issues regarding the Classified Information Procedures Act, which dictates precautions that must be taken when entering classified documents as evidence in a court case.

Cannon, a Trump-appointed judge, denied Smith’s request to keep the witnesses from the public.

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“The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the court is necessary,” Cannon wrote in the order. “It does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory.”

Cannon also disclosed that news organizations such as The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post filed a motion in opposition of Smith’s request, claiming that it violated the First Amendment.

“This case—the first prosecution of a former President of the United States—is one of the most consequential criminal cases in the Nation’s history. The American public’s interest in this matter, and the need to monitor its progress every step of the way, cannot be overstated,” the coalition stated in its filing.

Cannon has not addressed Smith’s motion to postpone the start of the trial until December 11.

Ava Lombardi

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