Donald Trump wants a judge to allow him to use a dedicated space at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to discuss classified evidence in the criminal case against him over the handling of government records, a move prosecutors oppose.
(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump wants a judge to allow him to use a dedicated space at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to discuss classified evidence in the criminal case against him over the handling of government records, a move prosecutors oppose.
The resort previously had an approved site for reviewing classified information when Trump was president, his lawyers said Wednesday in a court filing. While re-certifying that space would come with “challenges,” it would be more efficient and save money, given the costs of law-enforcement protection while Trump is on the move, the lawyers said.
Special Counsel John “Jack” Smith’s office has argued Trump should have to travel to a secure government facility elsewhere in south Florida to review classified evidence. In a July court filing, the Justice Department opposed what it called an “extraordinary” proposal by Trump to discuss classified evidence outside of a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF.
Trump’s defense team claimed the government’s proposal was “inappropriate, unnecessary, and unworkable,” give his unique status as a former president and Mar-a-Lago housing a SCIF previously. They also said prosecutors were “misleading” the judge in the case by characterizing Trump’s request as wanting to discuss classified evidence at his “personal” or “private” residence or office.
Read More: Trump, DOJ Spar Over Where He Can Talk About Classified Evidence
“We assure the Court that the above was never suggested by defense counsel and that we and President Trump take seriously the rules surrounding the handling and discussion of classified materials,” his lawyers wrote.
A spokesperson for Smith’s office declined to comment.
Trump is charged with illegally holding onto sensitive national security information at Mar-a-Lago and in his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club after he left office and trying to obstruct the government’s efforts to get those documents back. He has pleaded not guilty to charges.
Prosecutors argued that Trump’s request for a Mar-a-Lago SCIF was “particularly striking” since the resort was where the classified documents at issue in the case were found and where the alleged crimes primarily took place.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon has to approve a special order laying out how classified information will remain secure before prosecutors can start turning over that evidence to the defense teams.
Attorneys for Trump and his codefendants are in the process of receiving security clearances to view classified evidence. Trump won’t receive that clearance. Smith’s office originally said it would ask the judge to require Trump to get permission before reviewing or talking about the evidence — a typical restriction in cases involving classified information, they argued — but later changed course.
The sticking point, then, became where conversations with his attorneys about that material could take place. Trump isn’t asking that copies of evidence be moved or stored at Mar-a-Lago, his lawyers said.
Trump’s lawyers argued it wasn’t fair to compare Mar-a-Lago to any other “private citizen’s” residence “given the necessary protections afforded to our nation’s leaders after they leave office” and the fact that the location is already protected at all times by the US Secret Service.
The case is US v. Trump, 23-cr-80101, US District Court, Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach).
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