Special counsel turns over first batch of classified material to Trump in documents case

Special counsel turns over first batch of classified material to Trump in documents case

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Washington — Special counsel Jack Smith has turned over to former President Donald Trump and his lawyers the first batch of classified materials as part of the discovery process in the case over the former president’s handling of sensitive government records after he left the White House.

In a filing on Thursday, Smith and his team notified U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that they had made their first production of classified discovery on Wednesday, the same day Cannon issued a protective order pertaining to the classified information disclosed to Trump and his lawyers in the lead-up to the trial set to begin in May

Prosecutors said that some of the sensitive material can be viewed by Trump’s lawyers who have received interim clearances, but other documents require them to have “final clearances with additional necessary read-ins into various compartments.” Highly classified information is often “compartmentalized” to limit the number of officials who have access to it.

The material included in the first batch includes the documents bearing classification markings that were stored at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s South Florida property, and other classified information “generated or obtained in the government’s investigation,” like reports and transcripts of witness interviews.

Prosecutors said they anticipate turning over more classified material.

The report states that the Justice Department has given five batches of unclassified material to Trump and his two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, so far. Prosecutors said they will hand more unclassified witness material on a “rolling basis,” as well as agent communications. The five tranches total roughly 1.28 million pages of documents, Smith’s team said, and were handed over between late June and the beginning of September.

The Justice Department has also provided what Trump and his co-defendants estimate is more than 3,700 days, or over 10 years, of surveillance footage. Prosecutors dispute that tally and said their estimate is “roughly half of these numbers.”

“The Government represents that, at this time, it has produced all search warrants and the filtered, scoped returns; all witness memorialization in the Special Counsel Office’s possession as of our most recent production (September 1, 2023); all grand jury testimony; and all CCTV footage obtained in the Government’s investigation,” lawyers with the special counsel’s office wrote.

The former president has been charged with 40 counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents that were recovered from Mar-a-Lago after he left office in January 2021. Thirty-two of the charges against Trump are for willful retention of national defense information relating to specific documents with classification markings that the government says it retrieved from his South Florida property in 2022.

Nauta, an aide to Trump, faces a total of eight counts and De Oliveira, the property manager at Mar-a-Lago, is charged with four counts. All three, Trump, Nauta and De Oliveira, pleaded not guilty to all charges filed against them.

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