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Trump-Appointed Judge Gives Special Counsel a ‘Smackdown’ After He Tries to ‘Trap’ 45

A federal judge on Monday rejected a request from special counsel Jack Smith to keep secret the names of 84 witnesses the government plans to call in its case against former President Donald Trump. Trump has been charged with mishandling classified documents. When he was arraigned on the charges, he was instructed not to contact witnesses in the case or discuss the case with his co-defendant, longtime aide Walt Nauta. Last week, prosecutors filed a request that the witness list be kept secret and that Trump sign a document saying he understood those on it could not be contacted. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon rejected the request. “The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary; it does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal,” Cannon wrote, according to Insider. Writing on Twitter, journalist Julie Kelly told her 440,000 followers that the ruling represented a “smackdown.” She also alluded to the outrage among leftist media outlets and politicians at the news that Cannon had been selected for the case by rotation of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Trump appointed Cannon to the federal bench in 2020. “This is why they want to get rid of Judge Aileen Cannon in classified docs case,” Kelly wrote. “Her first smackdown of Special Counsel Jack Smith.” Another poster, using the handle “The Last Refuge,” wrote to more than 250,000 followers that, “It was/is a trap to keep Trump from public speaking, lest one of the 84 witnesses watch television and view communication from the defendant…. ie. Lawfare.” On Monday, a group of news media organizations filed to make the witness list public, calling the case “one of the most consequential criminal cases in the nation’s history.” [firefly_poll] “The American public’s interest in this matter, and need to monitor its progress every step of the way, cannot be overstated,” the media outlets wrote, according to The New York Times, which is one of the organizations involved. David Aaron, a former Justice Department lawyer who prosecuted national security cases, told  The Washington Post that multiple orders on procedural issues are part of the trial. “There are going to be a lot of ministerial orders that are administrative or scheduling or procedural. This is a trial, and not everyone agrees how these things should be done. So people shouldn’t get too excited about each one of these,” he said. Joseph A. DeMaria, a former federal prosecutor in Miami, said the special counsel’s request was outside of common practice. [ic_related] “All they said is they want this to be filed under seal,” DeMaria told The Washington Post. “That’s not how we do it in Florida.” The order barring Trump from contacting witnesses might mean less than it seems, attorney Mark Zaid said after Trump’s arraignment, noting that Trump’s post-arraignment speech was “just one of any number of atypical circumstances that will plague this case,” according to USA Today. “Few defendants would have an opportunity to speak to a co-defendant or witness in a manner that Trump will have available,” he said. He said the court will need to monitor Trump’s public speeches to determine if private, forbidden messages are being sent. “Should Trump make comments at an event attended by Nauta, or perhaps through television or social media, and it appears that very clear messages, if not instructions, are being made that would be deemed inappropriate if the two were meeting privately, I would expect prosecutors to revisit this issue before the judge for further clarification or expansion of the scope of the gag order,” he said. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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