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Donald Trump attends closed-door classified documents hearing in Florida

Former President Donald Trump, shown here last month in New York, attended a federal court hearing in Florida on Monday about classified information in the election interference case against him. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

1 of 2 | Former President Donald Trump, shown here last month in New York, attended a federal court hearing in Florida on Monday about classified information in the election interference case against him. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 12 (UPI) — Former President Donald Trump attended a closed-door hearing Monday in federal court in Fort Pierce, Fla., to determine which classified information can be shared with his defense team in the case over his handling of materials after leaving the White House.

Monday’s hearing covered the Classified Information Procedures Act, a federal law that requires the court to protect the discovery, disclosure and use of any classified information to a defendant in the interest of national security.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, held two separate closed-door sessions Monday. She heard from the former president’s defense team who explained why certain classified information should be disclosed to them. Special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecuting team is arguing in favor of keeping information sealed from the defense, instead only offering summaries of the information.

“Defense counsel shall be prepared to discuss their defense theories of the case, in detail, and how any classified information might be relevant or helpful to the defense,” Cannon wrote in the hearing schedule last week.

Cannon was also scheduled Monday to hold a two-hour session with prosecutors outside of Trump’s legal team. The hearing, which could continue Tuesday, was not open to the public and was held in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, where classified material can be viewed safely.

While Trump was not required to attend Monday’s session, he chose to anyway as he faced Cannon for the first time. He left without speaking to reporters or his supporters, who blasted “God Bless the USA” on speakers outside the courthouse.

Trump’s team and Smith have jostled over discovery materials for months. The trial is slated to start in May, though the slow-moving pretrial process has brought that into question.

Trump, who is seeking the GOP nomination for re-election, has pleaded not guilty to the charges related to his alleged mishandling of more than 100 classified documents, including papers containing sensitive national security information, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., after he left office.

Cannon ruled in favor of the former president in a court filing that was unsealed over the weekend, declining to protect the identities of witnesses who may testify against Trump.

The prosecution argued that disclosing the identities of potential witnesses, along with statements they made to the FBI or grand jury, would expose them to “significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation and harassment, as has already happened to witnesses, law enforcement agents, judicial officers and Department of Justice employees whose identities have been disclosed in cases in which defendant Trump is involved.”

The prosecution complied with the ruling. The information submitted by the prosecution will be reviewed to ensure it meets the requirements of Cannon’s order before being unsealed to the defense.

The threats and intimidation Smith referred to have occurred across several cases involving Trump. Last spring, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office increased security after Alvin Bragg announced the indictment of Trump in a hush money case involving adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels.

In August, a woman was arrested for a threatening call made to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

In December, the Colorado Supreme Court received a rash of threats and was the subject of violent rhetoric online after disqualifying Trump from its ballot.

Last month, New York State Judge Arthur Engoron received a bomb threat on the morning of closing arguments in the civil fraud case against Trump.

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