Miami, US, Jun 26 (EFE).- A United States federal judge on Monday rejected a request from the prosecutor’s office to keep secret a list of 84 potential witnesses in former president Donald Trump’s classified documents trial.
Judge Aileen Cannon said federal prosecutors did not sufficiently justify why keeping the list sealed was necessary.
“The government’s motion does not explain why filing the list with the court is necessary; it does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view,” Cannon wrote.
She also noted that while Trump’s defense did not take a position on this matter, it reserves the right to challenge it at a later date.
A coalition of news organizations had also opposed keeping the list secret, filing a motion to intervene in the prosecutors’ request.
“This case – the first prosecution of a former president of the United States – is one of the most consequential criminal cases in the nation’s history. The American public’s interest in this matter, and need to monitor its progress every step of the way, cannot be overstated,” the coalition wrote.
Broadcasters such as CNN, ABC, NPR, NBC and CBS, news agencies such as the Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters, and print media such as the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Politico, the Miami Herald and the Los Angeles Times, among others, are part of the coalition.
This same group unsuccessfully tried to get cameras into the federal courthouse in Miami where on June 13 Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 charges in relation to the discovery of more than 100 classified documents at his Florida mansion in 2022, when he was no longer president.
“Full transparency – at every step of this historic case – is essential. Without it, public confidence in the integrity of these proceedings specifically and the judicial system at large will suffer, perhaps irreversibly,” the group added in the motion.
It said that the government had moved to keep sealed a list of people – “apparently 84 of them” – to whom Trump cannot speak directly about the case because they are potential witnesses in the trial to be held in Fort Pierce, Florida, starting Aug. 14.
That is the date set in principle by Judge Cannon, although the prosecutor’s office has already asked to delay the start until December.
The coalition argued that full transparency is essential for public confidence in the integrity of proceedings and keeping the list sealed would go against the First Amendment.
“The list is not trivial to the process or the Defendant. In fact, along with the public Indictment, it reflects a turning point from the secrecy of the Grand Jury investigation to the public administration of justice involving the highest level of power in American Government,” the coalition wrote.
The indictment against Trump was the result of an investigation conducted by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Of the 37 charges against him, 31 are for willfully retaining and failing to hand over documents related to national defense, but he is also accused of conspiracy to obstruct justice and “corruptly concealing a document or record related to national defense.”
Some of these crimes are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. EFE