Judge Aileen Cannon Smacks Down Jack Smith In Scathing Court Order


Setting the stage for another legal showdown, Judge Aileen Cannon’s court order on Thursday slapped down Special Counsel Jack Smith’s push for secrecy.

In the development within the legal proceedings surrounding former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case, Judge Cannon criticized Jack Smith’s extensive plea for confidentiality over FBI interviews. The dispute intensified as Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee presiding over this high-profile case, openly challenged Smith’s “sweeping request” to conceal details integral to the investigation.

At the heart of the dispute is the judge’s decision to release Walt Nauta’s voluntary FBI interview from 2022, a day before a crucial hearing on defense motions. Nauta, Trump’s former personal assistant, along with Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker, face accusations of conspiring to obstruct justice by allegedly repositioning boxes of sensitive materials to evade federal recovery efforts.

Special Counsel Smith has repeatedly expressed his concerns over disclosing the names of FBI witnesses, citing potential intimidation from Trump supporters. Despite partially acceding to Smith’s request to anonymize identities in certain documents, Judge Cannon decisively rejected other requests for censorship, particularly regarding the substantive statements in Nauta’s FBI interview according to Newsweek. In her ruling, Judge Cannon referred to the inadequacy of Smith’s generalized justifications, highlighting a strong public interest in accessing these materials. The stance marks a continuation of Cannon’s critical approach towards Smith’s handling of the case.

On Tuesday, however, Cannon opted to side with Smith over the concealment of the identities of certain government witnesses who will testify that Trump allegedly took documents from the White House. Shrouding their identities, Smith had argued, prevents reprisal against his witnesses should Trump be elected in November.

“The Court is satisfied that the Special Counsel has made an adequate showing on this issue under Rule 16, at least at this juncture pending final trial preparations,” according to the court document reviewed by the Daily Caller. “The Court directs the Special Counsel … to file under seal an index containing the name of each potential government witness and a corresponding pseudonym/anonymization for use in the redactions of Defendants’ MTC.”

Smith may now release statements by certain witnesses using pseudonyms and redacting certain identifying information.

Besides government employees, former Mar-a-Lago staffers are also expected to testify about the storage of classified documents found at the Florida compound during an FBI raid in August of 2022. Previous attempts by Smith to restrict the president’s access to documents that will be presented have been shot down by Cannon, prompting Trump’s legal team to move for total dismissal of the case based on prosecutorial misconduct. Last month, the judge, a Trump appointee, issued an ultimatum to Smith: turn over all documents, even those containing national security secrets, or risk a mistrial. Delays of the start of the trial have compounded Smith’s general lack of success. Observers have warned that a conviction may not come until after Election Day, a development the former president could strike down if he is elected again.

Trump and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty, though former Mar-a-Lago staffer Brian Butler, who is referenced as “Trump Employee 5”, has testified to investigators that he unknowingly helped move and store the classified documents.


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