Jack Smith seeks court order to ensure Trump, defense don't share evidence turned over in discovery

ByTierney Sneed, Annie Grayer and Zachary Cohen, CNN, CNNWire
Saturday, June 17, 2023
Feds seek court order to protect evidence in Trump indictment
Special counsel Jack Smith's team asked for a court order to bar Donald Trump and his defense from publicly disclosing materials shared in discovery.

WASHINGTON -- Special counsel Jack Smith's team is asking the judge in the classified documents case against Donald Trump to bar the former president and his defense team from publicly disclosing some of the materials shared in the criminal case as part of the discovery process.

In a new filing on Friday, Smith's team said that among the unclassified materials that prosecutors are set to turn over to the defense is "information pertaining to ongoing investigations, the disclosure of which could compromise those investigations and identify uncharged individuals."

The filing, which includes a proposed protective order, is an expected, procedural step now that Trump has entered his not guilty plea and the proceedings are moving forward. Lawyers for Trump and his co-defendant Walt Nauta do not oppose the requested protective order, according to the filing.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump-appointed judge assigned to preside over the case, referred the matter to US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, citing local court rules. Reinhart approved the search warrant the FBI executed at Mar-a-Lago last year.

Smith's team said in the filing that the "government is ready to provide unclassified discovery to the defense."

"The discovery materials include sensitive and confidential information," including personal and financial data, information that reveals "sensitive" investigative techniques and information about potential witnesses, according to the filing. Some of that information could be in grand jury transcripts or recordings of witness interviews.

"The materials also include information pertaining to ongoing investigations, the disclosure of which could compromise those investigations and identify uncharged individuals," the filing said.

The special counsel's proposed protective order would bar the defendants and their lawyers from disclosing the discovery materials "directly or indirectly to any person or entity other than persons employed to assist in the defense, persons who are interviewed as potential witnesses, counsel for potential witnesses, and other persons to whom the Court may authorize disclosure."

The order also would require those on the defense teams who access discovery materials to sign an agreement recognizing the restrictions on sharing it, and it would require that the defendants only view the materials under the supervision of their counsel. In addition, the defendants would not be allowed to keep copies of the materials.

"The Discovery Materials, along with any information derived therefrom, shall not be disclosed to the public or the news media, or disseminated on any news or social media platform, without prior notice to and consent of the United States or approval of the Court," the proposed order states.

DOJ won't give House chair info that could compromise ongoing probes

On another front, the Justice Department reiterated to House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan on Friday that it would not give him information that could compromise Smith's investigations into Trump, according to a series of letters DOJ officials sent to the Ohio Republican.

Jordan has continued to press Justice officials for details about the Trump probes and has been weighing whether to subpoena Smith, CNN has reported. The DOJ's response marked the latest in the back-and-forth between the department and Trump's fiercest allies on Capitol Hill, who have vowed to use their power to defend the former president.

To underscore why the department is limited in its ability to share information about ongoing investigations - including documents related to the search of Mar-a-Lago - DOJ re-sent Jordan documents that outline the general scope of Smith's investigations, as well as special counsel Robert Hur's investigation into President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents.

"Your letter requests non-public information about an ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution by a Special Counsel. The Department's longstanding protections for the confidentiality of such information reflect our duty to safeguard the integrity of our work," Justice officials wrote in one response to Jordan.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

Copyright 2023 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.