At least there’s still some justice left in America.
The presiding judge in the classified documents case involving former President Trump and the Justice Department (DOJ) in Florida has rejected the government’s request to seal the witness list. Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, denied the special counsel’s motion to file a sealed list of 84 potential witnesses, which had been provided to Trump’s legal team. The motion, filed by special counsel Jack Smith’s office last week, also sought to delay the trial and scheduled a pretrial hearing to address matters related to the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).
According to The Hill, In her order on Monday, Judge Cannon explained that the government’s motion did not provide a sufficient explanation for the necessity of filing the witness list with the court. It lacked specific justification for sealing the list from public view, failed to explore alternative options such as partial sealing or redaction, and did not specify the proposed duration of any potential seal.
During Trump’s arraignment earlier this month, he was prohibited from communicating about the case with his aide, Walt Nauta, who is also charged. The judge noted that a coalition of news organizations, including The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post, opposed the government’s request to seal the witness list on First Amendment grounds. They filed a motion to intervene, emphasizing the significance of this unprecedented prosecution as the first of a former U.S. president and asserting the public’s right to monitor its progress.
The press coalition stated in its filing that the disclosure of the potential witness list marked a crucial initial step in this extraordinary case. It would be the first time the government is directed by the court to inform Trump of the identities of individuals who may testify against him and potentially incriminate him, according to the motion.
Earlier this month, Trump was indicted with 37 federal counts related to mishandling classified documents and alleged attempts to withhold those documents from the government. Judge Cannon initially scheduled the trial for August 14 but received a motion from the special counsel seeking to move the trial to December 11.