Federal authorities are investigating threats allegedly made to a potential government witness in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.
Special counsel Jack Smith disclosed in a court filing late Wednesday that federal authorities are investigating threats made against a potential government witness in a case in which former President Donald Trump is accused of mishandling sensitive documents.
“The exhibit describes in some detail threats that have been made over social media to a prospective Government witness and the surrounding circumstances,” Mr. Smith wrote in the filing, adding that “those threats are the subject of an ongoing federal investigation being handled by a United States Attorney’s Office.”
“Disclosure of the details and circumstances of the threats risks disrupting the investigation,” Mr. Smith added.
He argued that filing a redacted version of the exhibit wouldn’t be enough to protect the integrity of the investigation because even with the names blacked out, investigative methods could be deduced from the exhibit’s contents and either potentially further endanger the victim or inadvertently provide information to the suspect.
President Trump’s attorneys have objected to any exhibit being filed ex parte, meaning submitted to the court by one party without the presence or notification of the opposing party, per the filing.
They have also said they oppose any exhibits being filed under seal but that they would not lodge a formal objection until they have had a chance to review the contents.
“Defense counsel in this case have security clearances, and, as officers of the Court should be allowed to review the relevant exhibit to allow an appropriate response,” President Trump’s attorneys said in a statement, per the filing.
They have accused Mr. Smith of infringing on the rights of President Trump and the public to open proceedings by filing exhibits ex parte.
Mr. Smith asked Judge Cannon to issue an order allowing him to file the exhibit ex parte and under seal, and for it to remain under seal until the the investigation has either closed or resolved by charges being brought and adjudicated.
President Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 counts he faces in the case.
‘Matters of Public Record’
As part of the fight over documents, President Trump’s attorneys filed multiple motions on Jan. 16, asking Judge Cannon to compel discovery.
The motions included several exhibits under seal, including emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and containing names and identifying information about government officials.
The former president’s attorneys argue that the exhibits show that the prosecution and the Biden administration have colluded to target President Trump.
Defense attorneys have asked to unseal this information, arguing that court filings are “matters of public record.”
On Feb. 6, Judge Cannon ordered the unsealing of some names and information contained in the sealed exhibits, partially granting President Trump’s motion.
She said that all filings under full or partial seal will require approval from the judge in the future unless there are “clear and supported cases of risk to personal safety or national security.”
Mr. Smith’s latest Feb. 7 filing is requesting filing an exhibit under seal, making the “personal safety” argument in claiming that the potential government witness could be endangered by the disclosure of information in the exhibit.
Besides the classified documents case, President Trump faces an array of legal troubles which all pose a challenge to him as the 2024 presidential campaign heats up.
This includes a total of 91 felony counts across state and federal jurisdictions, coupled with a civil suit in New York that could reshape his business landscape.
In 2023 alone, legal expenses drained more than $47 million from President Trump’s campaign funds, according to disclosures with the Federal Election Commission.
President Trump also faces attempts in multiple states to disqualify him from the ballot under the 14th Amendment on the premise that his call for protests over what he claims was a stolen 2020 election amounted to inciting an “insurrection” when a crowd breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
On Feb. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear the first oral arguments in the ballot disqualification case.