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Witnesses in Trump documents case can remain private, judge rules

By Andrew Goudsward

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge ruled on Tuesday to authorize the special prosecutor prosecuting the former president Donald Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents to protect the identities of possible witnesses in the case at this time.

U.S. District Judge Canon Aileen agreed to reconsider an earlier decision that prosecutors say would have revealed the names of some witnesses who spoke to investigators and subjected them to intimidation and harassment from Trump and his supporters.

Lawyers for Trump, the Republican challenger to the Democrat President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election, they attached witness information to a legal filing in January seeking information they said would help Trump’s defense.

Cannon, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, initially agreed to make the information public, citing the need for public access to court records.

Special counsel Jack Smith, the prosecutor who brought the case, urged Cannon to reevaluate his decision, arguing that the decision was legally flawed and would expose witnesses to unnecessary harassment and possible threats.

Cannon, in Tuesday’s updated ruling, agreed to redact information in public records that would identify witnesses. For now, the witnesses will be referred to in court documents under pseudonyms, the judge said.

Trump has repeatedly attacked judges, prosecutors and some known witnesses in the four criminal cases against him. In two of those cases – a federal case accusing Trump of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and a New York state prosecutor accusing him of hiding money payments to a porn star – judges imposed silence orders limiting Trump’s opportunities. unofficial statements.

In the classified documents case, Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges that he illegally retained highly sensitive documents after leaving office in 2021 and obstructed government efforts to recover those documents.

Trump has accused prosecutors of targeting him in an effort to damage his campaign.

The trial date in this case remains unclear.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)

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