Judge Adopts Trump’s Protective Order Proposal, With Restrictions

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  • The judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s prosecution on charges related to the events of January 6, 2021, handed his lawyers a victory regarding evidence in the case.
  • U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that all the evidence could not be “protected” from public disclosure, as prosecutors had wanted, but limited the disclosure of some “sensitive” material against Trump’s wishes.
  • “Your client’s defense is supposed to happen in this courtroom, not on the internet,” Chutkan told Trump’s attorneys.

The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s federal prosecution related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, ruled in favor of Trump on an evidence motion on Friday, while also rejecting key requests that Trump had sought in the case.

Trump’s attorneys appeared in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday regarding the issuance of a protective order in the case, which would limit the prosecution’s evidence disclosed to Trump and his legal team that they could, in turn, disclose to the public. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case, ruled largely in favor of Trump by adopting his proposal for a protective order while imposing limits on Trump’s conduct regarding the evidence, according to reports from the courthouse on Twitter and by The Hill. (RELATED: Trump Was Chatty, Judge Was Late: Scenes From The Courtroom During Trump’s Third Arraignment)

“I’m not persuaded that the government has shown good cause to subject to the protective order all the information in this case,” Chutkan remarked during the hearing, denying the special counsel’s request to restrict Trump from disclosing all the evidence in the case, which he had opposed. “I don’t want this order to be overinclusive. I don’t want to just issue a blanket protective order over information that is not sensitive,” Chutkan added, while ruling that only information deemed “sensitive” would be subject to the order.

The request for a loose protective order had been sought by Trump’s team given his candidacy for president in the 2024 election, where his criminal charges and the alleged weaponization of the Department of Justice are a central discussion point for his campaign. Trump, on Aug. 8, accused Smith of “taking away my First Amendment rights” by seeking the order in a post on Truth Social.

On the question of what was “sensitive” information, neither Chutkan nor the special counsel’s prosecutor, Thomas Windom, set a comprehensive definition. The special counsel plans to disclose up to 11.6 million pages of evidence to Trump, a vast amount of discovery that includes testimony from Trump administration officials, telephone transcripts and social media records, among others, The Hill reported.

Chutkan, however, said that witness interviews and recordings of conversations would be deemed “sensitive,” given their alleged potential for misuse by Trump.  “I can see how in advance of trial making public statements about potential witnesses is going to in and of itself affect the orderly administration of justice and could run afoul of his release conditions,” Chutkan said, referring to the bar on Trump communicating with any witnesses in the case that was ordered at his arraignment on Aug. 3.

During those arguments, Windom said that the special counsel had received some confidential witness transcripts from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, which had not been previously released to the public and whose existence wasn’t known.

Chutkan, further, rejected several requests by Trump’s attorney, John Lauro, for exemptions to the definition of “sensitive material.” She also declined to permit Trump to enlist the help of volunteer attorneys to help review the 11.6 million pages of discovery, citing its enormity, and asked Lauro to submit a detailed proposal regarding review.

Regarding Trump’s personal review of the documents, Chutkan said that Trump would not be permitted to review them while using an electronic device, citing his propensity to disclose information. “He cannot have access to any electronic device [while reviewing] … anything that could reproduce or copy those materials,” Chutkan said, while also ordering Trump’s attorneys to review any handwritten notes he makes about the matter.

Throughout the hearing, Chutkan emphasized that Trump would be treated like any other defendant and that his presidential campaign would not have any effect on her rulings. Trump’s appearance, however, had been waived for Friday’s hearing, in part due to the large logistical challenges of his appearing at the courthouse.

“You are conflating what your client needs to do to defend himself and what your client wants to do politically. Your client’s defense is supposed to happen in this courtroom, not on the internet,” she said.

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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