The judge in Trump’s 2020 trial doesn’t want a media ‘carnival’

The judge in Trump’s 2020 trial doesn’t want a media ‘carnival’

The judge in the trial of former US President Donald Trump over his actions in the 2020 election, Tanya Chutkan, warned on Friday that she would not allow the trial to take place in a media “carnival” atmosphere.

During an ad hoc hearing of a request from special counsel Jack Smith, who is concerned about potential witness intimidation in the event of unlawful disclosure by Donald Trump of key documents in the proceeding, the judge also set out the framework in which the former president would be authorized to comment publicly on the file.

Despite the highly political nature of the case, in which the former president, who is campaigning to regain the White House, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to fraud to overturn the vote result, the judge said she wanted to lead the discussions as normally as possible.

“I will not take into account in my decision the effects it might have” on the 2024 presidential campaign, she warned, in response to defense attorney John Lauro’s objections to plaintiffs’ requests. Above all, she said, she was concerned with “the proper administration of justice.”

With respect to Mr. Trump’s mandated comments framework, she concurs with the defense’s opinion which demanded that the limitations in her order relate only to “sensitive items” in the file.

On the other hand, Judge Chutkan adopted the prosecution’s proposed definition of “sensitive items” to include in particular transcripts or recordings of witness statements, citing the “risk of witness intimidation”.

It also denied a defense request to extend non-Trump lawyers’ access to the trove of documents that plaintiffs must make available to them in the coming weeks.

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– “baby sitter” –

The issue of Donald Trump’s access to “sensitive” documents without the presence of his lawyer has sparked a skirmish between the Attorney General, Thomas Windom, and John Lauro.

The accused “has already shown a disposition to retain documents which he should not have had”, quipped Mr. Windom to justify the need to regulate such access.

He was referring to another file in which the former president will be tried in 2024 before a court in Florida (southeast) for keeping secret documents after leaving the White House, instead of handing them over to the National Archives.

Donald Trump’s lawyer protested that he had never seen this type of case “advice forced to sit next to their client for a babysitter”.

Judge Chutkan ruled a “compromise,” allowing the former president to consult “sensitive items” without the supervision of his attorney, but without any electronic or other device likely to photograph or reproduce them.

It is also up to his attorney to ensure that his notes do not contain any identifying information on the person named in the file.

In closing, he warned the judge against any “inflammatory statement that would sully the jury’s choice,” which might only encourage him to set an early date for the trial.

Jack Smith, who called for a “trial without delay”, suggested the date of January 2, estimating that it “should not last more than four to six weeks”.

The defense has until August 17 to formulate its proposed timeline, before a new hearing on the matter appears before Judge Chutkan on August 28.

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Posted on August 11, 9:50 pm, AFP

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