Trump news: Hearing underway as Trump fumes about Jan 6 trial date

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Trump claims Georgia DA had an affair with a gang member

The first hearing in the criminal case against Donald Trump arising from his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election is underway in Washington, DC.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan is presiding over the case brought by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith following a grand jury investigation into the allegations against the former president.

Today she is hearing arguments from both sides concerning the matter of a protective order in the case. Mr Smith’s office is requesting a limit on what Mr Trump can publicise about the case. The former president’s defence team claims that would violate Mr Trump’s right to free speech.

On Thursday, Mr Smith’s office asked Judge Chutkan for the trial to be scheduled for a four-to-six-week period beginning on 2 January 2024.

Mr Trump reacted furiously to the proposal, calling the suggested date a form of “election interference”, coming “just ahead of the important Iowa Caucuses”.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Fulton County DA Fani Willis is expected to issue an indictment of the former president next week and has issued a memorandum denouncing a new lie being told about her by Mr Trump and his allies in an ad spot.

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Judge Chutkan says she will compromise.

Mr Trump can review the materials by himself but says counsel must review any notes he takes to ensure no personal identifying information is kept.

The former president will also not be allowed access during his review of discovery to electronic devices or a copy machine.

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 16:28

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Mr Lauro argues back: “The bottom line here is we have to have a workable system” to allow Mr Trump to review materials noting that the defence team is stretched thin.

Mandating that a lawyer be in the room when the former president reviews materials would bog them down, he notes.

“In 40 years of practice I’ve never seen in a white collar case where counsel has to sit next to a client and literally babysit to make sure they don’t violate a protective order.”

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 16:26

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Mr Windom argues about Mr Trump’s access to discovery: “The defendant, when he only has the material to himself, could elect to photocopy or otherwise reproduce, take a picture of the sensitive materials … He has shown a tendency to desire to hold onto material he knows he should not have.”

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 16:20

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While the Trump team is getting their preferred version of the protective order with a definitive line between sensitive and non-sensitive discovery, Judge Chutkan appears to be closely following the Justice Department definition of what counts as sensitive which appears to be the majority of what is being discussed.

Judge Chutkan is reviewing proposed edits to the protective order line by line — for example whether Mr Trump can review sensitive material while alone or whether a lawyer must be present; and if he can take notes and if they too should be reviewed to make sure they don’t include sensitive or personally identifying information.

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 16:19

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Judge Chutkan says witness interviews and recordings should be deemed as sensitive given the potential for their misuse.

Mr Windom says that there are non-public items provided by the Secret Service and the House January 6 select committee to the government, including some transcripts that are not public.

Judge Chutkan says to Mr Lauro regarding the select committee evidence: “Some materials may not be ‘sensitive’ because they’re publicly available. There may be quite a bit of it that is publicly available.”

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 16:05

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Judge Chutkan adds: “I am concerned that members of the public who are not bound by release conditions might use sensitive information in ways that might intimidate witnesses or interfere with these proceedings.”

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 16:01

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Mr Lauro says: “President Trump will scrupulously abide by his conditions of release.”

He again says that Mr Trump is concerned his campaign trail comments will trigger complaints of witness intimidation even in normal campaign discourse. Specifically about former vice president Mike Pence.

Judge Chutkan replies: “He’s a criminal defendant. He is going to have restrictions like every single other defendant.”

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 15:59

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Judge Chutkan says Mr Lauro is “conflating what your client needs to do to defend himself and what your client wants to do politically. Your client’s defence is supposed to happen in this courtroom, not on the internet.”

She adds: “I can see how, in advance of trial, making public statements about potential witnesses is going to affect the orderly administration of justice … and his release conditions.”

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 15:55

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Mr Windom reveals: “During the course of this investigation it was the government’s general practice to audio record witness interviews conducted outside the grand jury … There are hundreds of recordings of witness interviews.”

The prosecution would like to bar the Trump team from releasing witness interviews.

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 15:54

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Judge Chutkan says she will side with the defence and that the protective order will cover only material the Justice Department designates as sensitive, not all the information to be exchanged in the discovery process.

She reminds Mr Lauro that former president Trump is still subject to pretrial release conditions, which include a bar on harassing or intimidating witnesses.

“All his behaviour and statements are governed by conditions of release.”

She adds: “I will be scrutinising them very carefully.”

Judge Chutkan denies other changes proposed by defence about various exemptions from “sensitive” designations. — one exempting material acquired outside of discovery and another requesting to allow a broader definition of authorised persons.

The judge also says she is “not comfortable” with the Trump team’s proposal to allow volunteer attorneys or other non-retained lawyers to review discovery.

Mr Lauro argues that preparing for a 2 January 2024 trial date is a massive task and they need more help.

Judge Chutkan says the defence definition could allow discovery to be shared with unindicted co-conspirators, and tells Mr Lauro the defence proposal would allow “just about anybody” access to discovery.

She asks him to submit a more narrowly tailored proposal.

Oliver O’Connell11 August 2023 15:46

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