Trump objects to strict limits on sharing evidence in election interference case

Trump objects to strict limits on sharing evidence in election interference case

Former President Donald Trump arrives to board his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Va. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo

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Former President Donald Trump argued Monday that he should be allowed to share evidence in his latest criminal case with “volunteer attorneys” and other unpaid advisers as he prepares to defend himself against charges related to his effort to subvert the 2020 election. “The government cannot preclude the assistance of those individuals, nor should President Trump be required to seek permission from the Court before any such individual assists the defense,” Trump’s attorney John Lauro wrote in a filing that seeks to govern the handling of the mountains of evidence prosecutors have gathered and are preparing to share with Trump’s team. “Such a limitation or requirement would unduly burden President Trump and impede the efficient preparation of his defense,” Lauro continued. In a Sunday email between Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors, appended to Trump’s filing, assistant special counsel Thomas Windom raised concerns about Trump’s plan to broaden the group of legal advisers who might be permitted to review evidence in the case, worrying that the language Lauro proposed was “boundless.” The dispute is one of several between Trump’s legal team and the special counsel over the handling of evidence in the case and how significantly to restrict Trump’s ability to publicly disclose any of the evidence he receives. Prosecutors have proposed a so-called “protective order” that would prohibit Trump or his legal team from publicly sharing any evidence produced by prosecutors. They say that they can’t begin sharing evidence with Trump and his team until a protective order is in place. The matter now falls to U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who ordered Lauro to respond to prosecutors’ proposed protective order by Monday at 5 p.m. She may either rule on the matter or seek additional argument at a hearing in the case. Prosecutors are due to propose a trial date by Thursday. Lauro said the blanket restriction on disclosing any evidence prosecutors provide is draconian and should be narrowed to limit the treatment only of materials deemed “sensitive” — such as those containing personally identifying information, grand jury subpoena returns, sealed search warrant returns and recordings or transcripts of witness interviews. “Rather, the Court can, and should, limit its protective order to genuinely sensitive materials — a less restrictive alternative that would satisfy any government interest in confidentiality while preserving the First Amendment rights of President Trump and the public,” Lauro wrote.