Two days after losing a round in federal court, special counsel Jack Smith is calling on U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to reverse a ruling that would make public the names of witnesses in former President Donald Trump’s federal case alleging he wrongly possessed classified documents.
Cannon rejected Smith’s effort to keep all that information under wraps on Tuesday, according to Newsweek.
“Although ‘protection of a continuing law enforcement investigation’ can constitute a compelling governmental interest … the Special Counsel fails to identify the information at issue, provide any explanation about the nature of the investigation, or explain how disclosure of the code name would prejudice or jeopardize the integrity of the separate investigation (assuming it remains ongoing),” wrote the judge, a Trump appointee who serves on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
On Thursday, however, Smith said individuals whose names are released will be at risk, according to Newsweek.
“That discovery material, if publicly docketed in unredacted form as the Court has ordered, would disclose the identities of numerous potential witnesses, along with the substance of the statements they made to the FBI or the grand jury, exposing them to significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment,” the special counsel said in a court filing.
Such harassment has “already happened to witnesses, law enforcement agents, judicial officers, and Department of Justice employees whose identities have been disclosed in cases in which defendant Trump is involved,” Smith wrote in his filing.
In its reporting about the request, The Hill noted that asking for reconsideration is not common, and yet this marks the second time Smith’s legal team has tried to have an order from Cannon reconsidered.
Smith’s team said the judge was flat-out wrong in her decision.
“Because the Court applied the wrong legal standard — which, as explained below, the Government did not discuss in its prior filing — reconsideration is warranted to ‘correct clear error,’” prosecutors wrote.
Is Jack Smith’s prosecution of Trump politically motivated?
“Second, in addition to ensuring that the correct legal standard is applied, reconsideration is warranted to ‘prevent manifest injustice,’” the filing said.
If Cannon’s decision stands, the names of witnesses not expected to testify at trial who “would otherwise be able to retain their anonymity and privacy absent the Court’s Orders” would have their names made public, it said.
On Wednesday, a filing from Smith’s team claimed federal officials were investigating social media threats against one witness.
Trump’s classified documents trial is scheduled to start on May 20, according to ABC News.
The two sides are locked in a debate over the deadline for pretrial motions, which is currently set for Feb. 22.
Smith’s team has filed a request that the deadline not be pushed back, saying Trump’s legal team is trying to delay the trial.
The former president’s attorneys, however, have said the special counsel is moving with reckless abandon to pursue a political goal.
“The Special Counsel’s Office is engaged in a reckless effort to try to obtain a conviction of President Trump prior to the 2024 Election, no matter the cost,” they wrote in a filing.
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