Donald Trump Fumes Over Release of Florida Documents

Jan 25, 2024

Donald Trump's legal team has clashed with media groups seeking the disclosure of documents in his classified documents case in Florida.

Trump is facing dozens of felony charges accusing him of unlawfully retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving the White House in 2021 and repeatedly obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. He is facing three other criminal prosecutions as he seeks to reclaim the White House in November, and has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any wrongdoing.

In his latest filing on Wednesday, Trump's lawyer, Christopher Kise, complained to Judge Aileen Cannon that the Press Coalition, made up of major media groups, has not properly communicated with him before seeking the release of documents in the case.
"Counsel for the Press Coalition claimed that the timing of the communications was reasonable and in conformity with the Local Rules because the matter was briefed and pending. This is simply wrong," Kise wrote.

Trump's team did not oppose the release of the documents but said they have to be consulted first and also said it is Prosecutor Jack Smith, and not Cannon, who is responsible for the document release.

Kise also wrote that Trump needs more time to consider the documents' release as he is running for president and also facing the E. Jean Carroll defamation case in New York.

"President Trump's consideration of whether he should object, consent, or take no position as to the Press Coalition's motion—or any other application—should not be rushed, particularly as he is both actively campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination and participating in a civil jury trial in the Southern District of New York," Kise wrote.

He also complained that, under court rules, the Press Coalition should first have consulted with the parties in the case—the Department of Justice, which is prosecuting the case, and with Trump's legal team.

"In this case, no such reasonable and good faith efforts were undertaken by counsel for the Press Coalition, aside from [a] Friday afternoon email imposing the arbitrary Monday morning deadline. Further, in an apparent effort to conceal its non-compliance, counsel's certification failed to identify its actions with sufficient specificity," Kise wrote.

He also noted Cannon's observation that "You tried to confer on a Friday before filing on a Monday something that is presumably quite important. That seems a bit rushed."

The former president's legal team on January 16 filed a motion asking Cannon to compel Special Counsel Jack Smith's team to turn over a trove of documents related to the classified documents case.

Smith's team filed an opposition to Trump's motion two days later, saying the government "supports full transparency of the record consistent with witness safety, national security, and the Court's protective order." The filing listed six exhibits that the government wants to remain sealed, and 22 exhibits that can be released to Trump's team once certain "noted redactions" are made. The filing also listed other exhibits that Smith's team does not object to turning over and others that Trump's team has already received in discovery.

In a filing on Monday, Trump's lawyers accused Smith of failing to demonstrate why some documents needed to be sealed or redacted. Smith's office "made no effort to substantiate its vague claims concerning 'witness safety' and 'national security' as they relate to the requested redactions," the filing read.

On Monday, attorneys for the Press Coalition filed a motion asking the court to ensure the proposed redactions and withholdings are necessary.

The filing stated that the coalition "agrees that these records are presumptively public and that the Government must carry a heavy burden to justify sealing them in whole or in part."

The coalition includes The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, The Miami Herald and The Palm Beach Post.

Newsweek has contacted Smith's office, as well as attorneys for Trump, for comment via email on Wednesday.

The coalition is asking the court to conduct an independent review of the government's proposed redactions to ensure that they are "as narrow as possible" and that the government has "sufficiently explained why each reduction is necessary," attorneys wrote in Coalition's filing.