Federal Judge Orders Trump, Jack Smith to File New Redactions in Documents Case

It came after the judge postponed the trial indefinitely.
Federal Judge Orders Trump, Jack Smith to File New Redactions in Documents Case
This combination of pictures shows special counsel Jack Smith in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023, and former US President Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Saul Loeb, Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case has ordered President Trump’s lawyers and special prosecutor Jack Smith’s team to prepare for the public release of materials.

The order on May 9 is the first major one that Judge Aileen Cannon has made since she issued a ruling last week postponing the trial date indefinitely to deal with classified evidence issues.

But she ordered President Trump on May 9 to comply with a May 16 deadline to “submit under seal ... his current position on the sealing of his two undocketed motions, the associated responses and replies, and all accompanying exhibits,” including proposed redactions to the filings.

The judge also ordered Mr. Smith’s team to submit “a brief notice indicating any final changes or revisions to his proposed seal/redaction requests as to the above-mentioned filings.”

The orders were issued in relation to a February motion submitted by President Trump’s team that had alleged prosecutors unlawfully obtained evidence in the case along with other alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

“The names of potential witnesses or clearly identifying information, ancillary names,” and other information relating to ”grand jury materials” should be redacted, the May 9 order said.

Two days before that, Judge Cannon said in a five-page order that it would be “imprudent” to finalize a new trial date now, casting further doubt on federal prosecutors’ ability to bring President Trump to trial before the November presidential election.

In the case, the 45th president faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally hoarding at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, classified documents that he took with him after he left the White House in 2021, and then obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get them back. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

President Trump faces four criminal cases as he seeks to reclaim the White House, but outside of the New York prosecution, it’s not clear that any of the other three will reach trial before the election.

The Supreme Court is weighing President Trump’s arguments that he is immune from federal prosecution in a separate case from Mr. Smith charging him with plotting to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election. Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, have also brought a separate case related to election subversion, though it’s not clear when that might reach trial.

He’s currently on trial in New York for allegedly falsifying business records in connection to payments he made that prosecutors claim were attempts to prevent several women from going public about allegations during the 2016 election. He’s pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Last week, Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the trial, said that the former president could face jail time if he continues to speak about certain individuals connected to the trial while he is under a gag order. The judge fined the former president a 10th time last week for what he said was a violation of the order.

“If anything is mentioned against certain people, and you know who they are, certain people, anything’s even mentioned, he wants to put me in jail,” President Trump told reporters on May 10 after court ended for the day.

“And that could happen one day,” he said, adding that he would “be very proud to go to jail for our Constitution, because what [Judge Merchan is] doing is so unconstitutional.”

Days before that, Judge Merchan warned President Trump that future gag-order violations could be punishable by incarceration.

“[The] last thing I want to do is put you in jail,” he said.

“At the end of the day, I have a job to do.”

The judge issued the original gag order in March, days before the trial started. It prohibits President Trump from making comments about jurors, court staff, prosecutors, and likely witnesses.

The gag order violation came as witness Stephanie Clifford, also known by her stage name, Stormy Daniels, testified in the trial and claimed that she had an affair with President Trump in 2006, which the former president has denied. His attorneys asked the judge to declare a mistrial over her remarks twice but were denied by Judge Merchan.

In a social media post that appeared to reference Ms. Clifford’s claims, the former president wrote that he cannot publicly respond to “lies and false statements” made about him.

Another major witness in the case, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, is likely going to testify in the coming week. The New York trial is expected to last about two more weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5