Former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case has taken an unexpected turn with a federal judge demanding the Department of Justice explain its grand jury investigation.
U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, Aileen Cannon, issued an order Monday compelling DOJ special counsel Jack Smith to unseal two filings related to the case and explain why the Washington, D.C. grand jury is involved.
“The Special Counsel states in conclusory terms that the supplement should be sealed from public view ‘to comport with grand jury secrecy,’ but the motion for leave and the supplement plainly fail to satisfy the burden of establishing a sufficient legal or factual basis to warrant sealing the motion and supplement,” Cannon’s order reads.
Judge Cannon’s order addresses the special counsel’s motion for a “Garcia” hearing, concerning a potential conflict of interest caused by attorney Stanley Woodward representing defendant Walt Nauta, as well as individuals who could be called to testify in the classified documents case.
Trump and Nauta are set to be arraigned Aug. 10 for the classified documents case. Smith superseded the indictment July 27 with additional charges for Trump and new charges for Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos De Oliveira, who stand accused of moving boxes around the former president’s Florida estate.
Smith indicted Trump Tuesday for contesting the 2020 presidential election results and his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. The former president pleaded not guilty at a Thursday arraignment in Washington, D.C. and accused Smith of “persecution” for the latest charges.
Now the lawyer for the former president’s co-defendant is questioning the DOJ’s prosecutorial power and motivations. He is calling on the court to determine the lawfulness of the investigative proceedings.
Despite the ongoing Trump legal saga, Trump is likely to await his fate out of the spotlight. He is currently living in his Mar-a-Lago estate, and though he has continued to speak out from his Twitter account, he has not held major public events since leaving office in January.
Cannon’s order is the latest development in an increasingly complex classified documents case that continues to draw attention from all sides. It remains to be seen whether Trump and Nauta’s next court date will offer further insights.