Trump attends Florida hearing in special counsel classified documents case

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference held at Mar-a-Lago on February 08, 2024 in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump arrived at a federal court in Florida on Monday morning for a closed hearing in the criminal case where he is charged with taking hundreds of classified government documents with him when he left the White House.

The hearing before Judge Aileen Cannon will deal with protective orders related to classified information contained in those records.

About 30 Trump supporters gathered outside the Fort Pierce court in anticipation of his arrival. They and other members of the public are not allowed to attend Tuesday’s proceedings.

Cannon, who was appointed to the federal bench by Trump, is scheduled to hear from defense attorneys alone from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, without the presence of prosecutors from the office of Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith.

Trump can attend the hearing, but his co-defendants in the case, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, cannot be there because they lack security clearance.

Nauta, who is Trump’s valet, and de Oliveira, who was a maintenance worker at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, are accused of helping Trump obstruct justice by trying to hide the classified documents from government officials. The classified records were kept at that Palm Beach, Florida, club, where Trump resides.

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“Defense counsel shall be prepared to discuss their defense theories of the case, in detail, and how any classified information might be relevant or helpful to the defense,” Cannon wrote in an order setting the hearing schedule last week.

Trump’s lawyers also are expected to discuss their motions for access to court filings under the Classified Information Procedures Act.

Later in the day, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the judge is scheduled to hear from Smith’s prosecutors their CIPA motions and other items. Defense lawyers are not allowed to attend that session.

Cannon has kept her docket clear on Tuesday in case further proceedings are needed on the CIPA issues.

Trump and the other defendants have pleaded not guilty in the case, which is one of four criminal cases facing the former president.

Trump is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Last week, another DOJ special counsel said that he would not criminally prosecute President Joe Biden for retaining a much smaller number of classified records and other material at his home in Wilmington, Delaware after he left the office of vice president in early 2017.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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