Trump Seeks Classified Documents to Cross-Examine Witnesses

The former president seeks to obtain materials related to ‘foreign state and non-state entities that attempted to influence the U.S. electorate.’
Trump Seeks Classified Documents to Cross-Examine Witnesses
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the Mar-a-Lago Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., April 4, 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Lawyer for former President Donald Trump indicated in a court filing that they want to use classified documents to cross-examine witnesses in his federal election trial in Washington.

In a filing Tuesday, his attorneys wrote that pursuant to the federal Classified Information Procedures Act, the former president “expects to disclose, or to cause the disclosure of, the classified information described in the document that was produced by the Office and made available to the defense” by prosecutors earlier this month.

“Based on the information currently available, President Trump expects that the disclosure(s) would occur during questioning of one or more individuals referenced in the document should any of them testify at the trial, or during questioning of other trial witnesses regarding those individuals,” the filing states.

In another court filing Tuesday, Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and John Lauro wrote that they are seeking to use classified materials to argue that there might have been election interference in the 2020 election. They cited a Director of National Intelligence report known as the Intelligence Community Assessment that said Russia, Cuba, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah attempted to interfere and that the former president was working to stop it.

They also made reference to the House subcommittee on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, which largely denigrated President Trump and blamed him for the incident.

“The January 6 Committee also referenced similar intelligence, which the prosecution has not yet produced, including an ‘increase in the number of foreign state and non-state entities that attempted to influence the U.S. electorate,’ and that ‘disinformation campaigns attempting to undermine the U.S. population’s confidence in their government and society,’” the court filing said.

The court filing made reference to the SolarWinds Orion hack in 2020 that was allegedly linked to Russian operatives. “Between January 2019 and at least December 2020, parties reportedly linked to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Services ... perpetrated what the [Securities and Exchange Commission] recently described as ‘one of the worst cybersecurity incidents in history,’” it said.

The reason why, they argued, is because President Trump fired the former head of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Chris Krebs, after the Solarwinds breach—which targeted numerous government systems—and that Mr. Krebs could be compelled to testify in the election case.

“Information relating to the [Solarwinds] attack is also discoverable to impeach anticipated testimony from the former CISA Director, as his subsequent employment by SolarWinds suggests that he had a motive to understand and mislead regarding the impact and risks associated with the attack—including in the 2020 Election CISA Statement,” they said, referring to Mr. Krebs’s statements that the 2020 election was secure.

Other Requests

His attorneys also noted that the Jan. 6 committee also warned of foreign adversaries’ attempts to “disguise their efforts to influence U.S. audiences” during the election, which his lawyers say “supports President Trump’s defense that foreign actors caused and contributed to the circumstances at issue in this case.”

“These are examples of public summaries of discoverable details of foreign efforts that are favorable to President Trump,” his lawyers said in arguing for the classified materials related to the case. “The prosecution must collect and produce all such information.”

They were making reference to materials that special counsel Jack Smith, the top prosecutor in the case, handed over to the defense attorneys on Nov. 8. Court documents indicated that his attorneys had reviewed the materials and now have to submit a filing to use them during his trial next year.

“For the foregoing reasons, President Trump respectfully submits that the Court should compel the Special Counsel’s Office to disclose the above-described documents and information,” they wrote on Tuesday. “In the alternative, the Court should hold a hearing, classified as necessary, to address any factual disputes relating to these issues.”

They also wrote that he’s entitled to receiving all materials relating to alleged foreign influence efforts relating to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

“Moreover, evidence of covert foreign disinformation campaigns relating to the 2020 election supports the defense argument that President Trump and others acted in good faith even if certain reports were ultimately determined to be inaccurate,” the filing said.

Special counsel Jack Smith in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Special counsel Jack Smith in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
It’s not the first time his attorneys have indicated they are seeking to use classified materials. In October, his legal team submitted papers accusing federal prosecutors of using faulty information to indict him in August, and it adopted “classified assessments by the Intelligence Community and others that minimized, and at times ignored, efforts by foreign actors to influence and interfere with the 2020 election.”

In the case, President Trump has been charged with felony counts for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election. The case, currently set for trial on March 4, 2024, is one of four criminal prosecutions that the former president is facing even as polls suggest that he’s currently the leading presidential candidate among Republicans.

The former president, also charged by Mr. Smith’s team in Florida with illegally retaining classified documents, is accused in Georgia of allegedly conspiring to undo his election loss in the state, and he’s awaiting trial in New York on state charges alleging that he falsified business records. He’s pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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: