Jack Smith Opposes News Media Bid to Intervene in Trump Classified Documents Case

The Press Coalition didn’t identify any statutory right to intervene in the case, according to prosecutors.

Special prosecutor Jack Smith’s office on Feb. 5 opposed a motion by a coalition of local and national news media seeking to intervene in former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case in Florida.

Prosecutors argued that the Press Coalition lacked standing and that their request to unseal certain court records, which might be favorable to the former president’s defense, was already addressed by a previous defense motion.

The Associated Press, The New York Times, NBC News, and other news media, referred to as the Press Coalition in court documents, requested the court’s permission to participate in the ongoing legal proceedings on Jan. 22.

Mr. Smith’s office, in its Feb. 5 motion, formally opposed the Press Coalition’s request to join the litigation, saying they didn’t identify any statutory right to intervene in the case.

The Press Coalition’s interest in the case “is ancillary to the main proceedings,” the prosecutors argued. They seek transparency and “access to information.”

“But that interest fails to satisfy the standard for permissive intervention. And in any event, such intervention is unnecessary because the court is already poised to determine, based on submissions from the parties and the prevailing law, what information should remain sealed,” prosecutors wrote (pdf).

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President Trump has already argued for the unsealing of the records in his Jan. 16 motion (pdf), and Mr. Smith’s office has already responded to that motion, supporting the unsealing with restrictions.

In their Jan. 18 motion, prosecutors supported unsealing certain records so long as redactions remained. They proposed redacting identifying information or any information that constitutes Jencks Act material for any “potential government witness” mentioned in the defense’s motion.

The Press Coalition also requested that the court conduct an “independent review” of the proposed redactions to instill confidence in the public regarding the administration of justice.

Their filing specifically noted that they specifically sought to ensure Mr. Smith’s office “met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing [case] and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire [records] (pdf).”

Addressing this argument, prosecutors wrote that they had “made clear” in their response to President Trump’s motion to compel disclosure that “it fully ’supports full transparency of the record consistent with witness safety, national security, and the Court’s protective order.’”

‘No Standing’

Prosecutors also charged that while the Press Coalition asserted that it has standing to get involved in the litigation, citing “more than a year” of media coverage of the legal saga, their motion “neither addresses nor establishes the elements of intervention. Both are required.”

Prosecutors argued that there is no federal law that gives the news media unconditional rights to intervene. Furthermore, they do not possess a non-statutory right, as the Press Coalition failed to demonstrate that their intervention in the case is necessary and that they are inadequately represented by the parties, according to the filing.

Prosecutors argued that President Trump’s Feb. 16 motion to unseal the records already covered the Press Coalition’s Feb. 22 request to unseal, effectively rendering it moot.

“The Press Coalition’s stated objective in intervening is to ensure that the court conducts an ‘independent review’ of the government’s proposed redactions and withholdings. But the government’s proposed redactions and justifications, as well as the defendants’ positions, are already before the court,” prosecutors wrote.

“Intervention for the sole purpose of encouraging the court to follow the law cannot constitute grounds to intervene, as the Press Coalition’s interest is already protected by the court’s pending independent review,” prosecutors continued.

The prosecutors noted that the Press Coalition argued that its motion should be accepted as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief. However, such briefs are not common in district courts and should only be accepted when “helpful to the court,” according to the filing.

“For these reasons, the court should deny the Press Coalition’s motion to intervene, and the government defers to the court as to whether it wishes to permit the filing of the Press Coalition’s brief as amicus curiae,” prosecutors wrote.

‘Opposing Attempts to Deny Public Access’

The Press Coalition sought the opportunity to advocate in court for the unsealing of specific records that the defense has claimed contain evidence favorable to President Trump.

They asserted their right to access court records in the high-profile case, arguing for “openness and opposing attempts to deny public access to records and proceedings.”

“Because the Press Coalition agrees that these records are presumptively public and that the government must carry a heavy burden to justify sealing them in whole or in part, it now moves to intervene in support of unsealing,” the Jan. 22 motion states.

The news media coalition asked the court to promptly provide access to all the currently redacted portions of the motion and the exhibits contained in the filing that the government “has no objection to unsealing.” Discovery materials are materials the defense has a right to access in order to prepare its case.

The dispute over these documents arose on Jan. 16, when President Trump’s legal team filed a motion to compel discovery materials from the special prosecutor’s office. They argued that the materials, subject to redaction under the court’s protective order, contained evidence favorable to the defense.

Additionally, the defense alleged that the redacted information reveals a political bias and motivation behind the prosecutions against the former president.

In their Jan. 16 filing, President Trump’s legal team maintained that there was no “compelling interest” in redacting the records, noting that legal proceedings are public and court filings are “matters of public record.”

The defense argued that the evidence includes redacted information that supports their allegations against the special prosecutor’s office. They’ve accused the special counsel of engaging in “discovery violations” and trying “to avert its eyes” from evidence in the hands of other government officials and agencies that might be favorable to President Trump’s defense.

The redacted evidence central to the motions originates from 22 Freedom of Information Act releases. President Trump’s legal team argues that these releases demonstrate a political motivation behind the legal actions against him.

The defense asked the court to compel Mr. Smith’s office to hand over “exculpatory, discoverable evidence in the hands of senior officials at the White House, DOJ, and FBI who provided guidance and assistance as this lawless mission.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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