NEW: Judge Denies DOJ's Motion for Special Conditions of Release and to Seal Witness List in Trump Classified Docs Case

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

When last we left the proceedings in U.S. v. Trump, the federal case regarding former President Donald Trump’s purported improper retention of classified documents, Special Counsel Jack Smith had moved for a continuance of the trial date from August 14, 2023, to December 11, 2023, and further disclosed the existence of 84 witnesses, the list of which the government sought leave to file under seal.


As previously reported, during Trump’s arraignment, the parties discussed conditions of his release, resulting in a subsequent order that prevents the former president from discussing the criminal case with witnesses or co-defendant Walt Nauta. This order was both a concession and an achievement for Trump’s counsel, as the initial proposed order would have prevented all contact between those parties and Trump instead of the subject-matter-related condition.

During the June 13 hearing, overseen by Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, one of the Justice Department’s prosecutors raised the issue that it’s unclear who the order would apply to, given that there wasn’t a witness list available. The prosecutor said:

The elephant in the room is that we don’t have a list (of witnesses) yet.

This prompted Goodman to instruct the DOJ to promptly provide the list of witnesses, thus clarifying the scope of the order. Smith’s late-night filing of a separate document regarding the conditions of Trump’s release on his own recognizance reveals in the footnotes that there are 84 government witnesses in the case so far. The motion was to submit the witness list, under seal, that the DOJ provided to the defense on Thursday to satisfy the court’s order.

Trump’s lawyers do not oppose the witness list being submitted under seal but are reported to potentially hold objections to the special condition of his release imposed, which requires that he refrains from discussing the matter with those listed, and possible objections to the manner of the government’s version of compliance with the order itself.


Judge Aileen Cannon issued a ruling on the government’s motions on Monday.

Judge Cannon denied the motion regarding the conditions of Trump’s (and co-defendant Walt Nauta’s) release and further denied the government’s request to file the witness list under seal, noting:

The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary; 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; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal.

Additionally, as noted in the order, Judge Cannon denied the motions of multiple news organizations to intervene in the matter in order to oppose the government’s motion to file the witness list under seal as moot (since she denied the government’s motion). For those interested, the coalition of media outlets seeking to intervene included:

  • Cable News Network, Inc.
  • Advance Publications, Inc.
  • American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. d/b/a ABC News
  • The Associated Press
  • Bloomberg L.P.
  • CBS Broadcasting, Inc. o/b/o CBS News
  • CMG Media Corporation
  • Cox Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Dow Jones & Company, Inc., publisher of The Wall Street Journal
  • The E.W. Scripps Company
  • Fort Myers Broadcasting Company
  • Gray Media Group, Inc.
  • Guardian News & Media Limited
  • Insider Inc.
  • Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, publisher of The Los Angeles Times
  • The McClatchy Company, LLC d/b/a the Miami Herald
  • National Public Radio, Inc.
  • National Cable Satellite Corporation d/b/a C-SPAN
  • NBCUniversal Media, LLC d/b/a NBC News
  • The New York Times Company
  • Orlando Sentinel Media Group, publisher of the Orlando Sentinel
  • Radio Television Digital News Association
  • Reuters News & Media Inc.
  • Sun-Sentinel Company, LLC, publisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • TEGNA Inc.
  • Telemundo Network Group LLC d/b/a Noticias Telemundo
  • Univision Networks & Studios, Inc.
  • WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post
  • WPLG, Inc.
  • The Palm Beach Post and USA TODAY, publications operated by subsidiaries of Gannett Co., Inc.

Judge Cannon granted the government’s Motion for a Pre-Trial Conference “to consider matters relating to classified information that may arise in connection with the prosecution,” as well as to appoint a Classified Information Security Officer (“CISO”) “to assist the Court, Court personnel, and the defense in the handling of any motions and orders” pursuant to the Classified Information Procedures Act (“CIPA”). (The defendants did not oppose those motions.) The pre-trial conference is set for July 14, 2023.

Lastly, Judge Cannon Ordered the defendants to respond to the government’s motion for continuance of the trial date by July 6, 2023.

As previously reported, Trump’s team doesn’t oppose pushing back the trial date from August 14th but does oppose the December date proposed by the government.

Based on Monday’s filings, it looks like the next major developments in the case will come at the pre-trial conference in July.



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