Nine Months of Surveillance Video: Trump’s Newfound Worries His Discovery Will Leak

As I alluded to here, hidden in Trump’s bid to push his trial out past the November 2024 election is a confession that the discovery he has gotten in the case is really damning — more damning than the documents seized last August.

In his filing, his attorneys say that the discovery is so sensitive, it is impossible to use contractors to help review the discovery.

[U]nlike most cases, all the discovery materials are sensitive and high-profile, the Defendants are unable to utilize contract or other third-party reviewers to the extent such resources would normally be available.

It’s hard to explain what a stunning claim this is, particularly given that Trump was perfectly happy to trust just such a third-party service in his Special Master bid before Judge Aileen Cannon last year, as evidenced by a series of filings last September and October.

Consistent with Judge Cannon’s order (ECF 125, at 3), the parties entered contracts with thirdparty vendors to scan, process, host, and provide a review platform for the Seized Materials.

Even though a key argument in Trump’s bid for that Special Master pertained to leaks, he nevertheless let a third party handle every unclassified document seized from Mar-a-Lago in August.

1 The Government is apparently not concerned with unauthorized leaks regarding the contents of the purported “classified records,” see, e.g., Devlin Barrett and Carol D. Leonnig, Material on foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities seized at Trump’s Mara-Lago, WASH. POST (Sept. 6, 2022),, and would presumably be prepared to share all such records publicly in any future jury trial. However, the Government advances the untenable position in its Motion that the secure review by a Court appointed and supervised special master under controlled access conditions is somehow problematic and poses a risk to national security.

That’s not surprising: such vendors are involved in every legal case involving voluminous digital discovery. And their business model is so wrapped up in signing and upholding protective orders, they don’t leak.

Yet Trump’s lawyers imply they might here.

With that in mind, I want to look at what Trump says he has seen in discovery so far.

The Government anticipates producing discovery in stages due to the sheer volume of documents collected and because of procedural mechanisms necessary to protect against the unlawful production of classified information. The Government produced its “first production of unclassified discovery” on June 21, 2023. 1 That initial production was substantial and voluminous. Therein, the Government produced more than 428,300 records (in excess of 833,450 pages) consisting of approximately 122,650 emails (including attachments) and 305,670 documents gathered from over ninety (90) separate custodians. The initial production also included some 57 terabytes of compressed raw CCTV footage (so far there is approximately nine months of CCTV footage, but the final number is not yet certain).

In addition, “there will be additional productions of discovery” provided by the Government, as it continues to process “some devices and search warrant returns.” Notably, the Government has not produced all interview-related materials, including certain witness statements and associated memorialization of those statements. [my emphasis]

Some of this doesn’t look that burdensome, or surprising. Trump mentioned 90 separate custodians. Well, DOJ has a list of 84 witnesses with whom it doesn’t want Nauta and Trump to speak, so this is partly saying that witnesses who testified were asked for discovery. The likely additional custodians are going to be entities like Trump’s own corporation, NARA, and the Secret Service.

Some of those records will include texts. The list of Bates stamps released last year shows 21,792 pages of unclassified documents seized last August that Trump’s lawyers already got to review in detail. The government may be obliged to turn over copies of some or all of the 15 boxes returned in January 2021, too, since Trump’s sort through them is part of the indictment.

It’s a lot. But it wouldn’t be a lot if Trump were using a discovery vendor.

What I find more interesting are the “devices and search warrant returns” that Jack Smith’s team is still processing. There are phones or computers that the government has not yet finished searching. And there are witness statements that — whether for ongoing investigative reasons or other sensitivities — DOJ has yet to turn over. That’s interesting!

Then there are the nine months of surveillance footage. As I noted in this post, in response to the original June subpoena for five months of surveillance footage, Trump turned over just two months. It’d be easy to see how DOJ came to request surveillance footage through December of last year (because documents kept moving around), and it’s unclear whether this includes footage from Bedminster in addition to Mar-a-Lago.

Still, all that footage came from Trump’s own properties! He’s just getting what he already owns back.

DOJ obtained far, far more surveillance footage after that original batch focused just on a basement hallway. And it’ll show the much more mundane stuff of Trump’s corrupt flunkies wandering around his properties — and possibly who knows what foreign parties nosing through boxes in the gaudy bathroom to see what kind of documents Trump brought home. DOJ will undoubtedly point Trump to what they consider the highlights. But I can understand why Trump wouldn’t want that video in the hands of anyone he couldn’t trust implicitly, often for reasons entirely unrelated to the case at hand.

All that said, DOJ has had this information for months and months.

And contrary to what leaks to that favorite right wing outlet Devlin Barrett would have you believe, it hasn’t leaked. Trump says a vendor whose entire business model depends on keeping secrets can’t be entrusted with these secrets. But the FBI has been sitting on some of them for almost a year and they haven’t leaked.

Trump’s lawyers may just be bullshitting here because it is the surest route to get this case declared a complex matter, entitling them to expanded pretrial delays. But the claims about the sensitivity of the discovery they’re making to support that argument are fairly astonishing.

115 replies
  1. Rwood0808 says:

    Strikes me as a way to give Cannon the excuse she needs to do trumps bidding.

    I won’t be surprised at all when she does.

    • Mister Sterling says:

      I read it as the opposite. It’s a clear signal from the defense that the DOJ case is so damning, that any judge saddled with this case had better not toy around with it. We’re on the ledge here. Defendant wants to delay trial by 18 months, but this motion opens the defense to a scathing response by the DOJ.

        • Jenny T says:

          Is it your job to chide commenters?

          Most moderators show a little self restraint and respect. Try it sometime

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Yes. Commenting here is a contact sport, just as a Trollopian tea at the vicarage was a more rigorous and consequential exercise than a rugby match.

          • bmaz says:

            Hi there third time commenter, yes, it is my job. And I am a little more than just a “moderator”. But thanks for the derogatory slur. Have been here since day one. Check my about page and then scan my over 1,000 posts. But, you have at it.

            • DrDavidK says:

              I don’t always agree with you, bmaz, but I appreciate what I imagine is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that you do.

            • M..Smith says:

              Your prickliness keeps the comments much more succulent in my opinion.

              [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please confirm by reply to this comment that “M..Smith” is your new username you’re going to stick with going forward. Thanks. /~Rayne]

              • M..Smith says:

                Yes, M..Smith is my new name, so at least I’ll look more compliant.
                Thank you Rayne for your multifaceted contributions to this great website.

          • Anvil Leucippus says:

            bmaz is a cactus, and not a moderator. Hopefully that clears it up

            [Moderator’s note: He may be as prickly as a cholla but he is indeed a moderator and contributor. Let’s get back on the topic of this post. /~Rayne]

            • Makaroon says:

              I frequently have the urge to post a trivial comment but refrain from fear of being “Bmazed”. The WELL-INFORMED bare-knuckles commentary on this site is part of why I value it.

              • Amicus12 says:

                I would say bmaz has this correct: DOJ has a pencil; J. Cannon has the power to control her docket and set a procedural schedule, albeit subject to the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161, with all its exceptions and provisos.

                I suspect next Tuesday’s proceeding may reveal a very great deal as regards J. Cannon’s attitude towards the case and the schedule going forward. If she wants the case to move apace she will make her feelings known to counsel and take steps to push this forward.

                Should she indicate a receptivity to the defendants’ “how about never” scheduling proposal, DOJ may well drop another indictment in another jurisdiction. We’ll see.

                  • Bobster33 says:

                    Then how is it that someone like Ken Paxton can delay his trial seemingly indefinitely? I would think Trump would follow a similar process in hopes of a similar result.

                    • Shadowalker says:

                      Some districts are notoriously slow in adjudicating cases. Paxton was indicted in 2015, then prosecutors were changed in 2017 which added even more delays. As I understand it, they finally got a prosecutor confirmed by the Senate who appears to be moving the case forward.

                    • JVOJVOJVO says:

                      As Bobster notes, inquiring minds want to know: HTF has Paxton still not been put on trial?! Did the DOJ put Alex Acosta on these matters? ;-)

                    • tmooretxk says:

                      Paxton’s charges are State of Texas charges, and have been delayed primarily by Repubs at various levels defunding and obstructing the prosecutors involved. Recently some Federal charges have been initiated.

  2. Nessnessess says:

    OK so IANAL. Among the things I wonder: Does and can a judge in Aileen Cannon’s position ever consult with others, whether formally or informally, before deciding matters such as this request by Trump? Is that allowed? Are there assistants, clerks, other judges and colleagues whose thoughts and perspectives she can elicit? Or is it all self-contained? Is there a typical way these things work?

      • NkcEd2023 says:

        What are some red flags that Loose Cannon can set off in terms of giving defense an unreasonable, unjustified or unordinary rulling?

        • SkippingDog says:

          Her unlawful attempt to apply rules of federal civil procedure – e.g., attempting to appoint a Special Master – in a criminal matter, preventing law enforcement from processing the evidence.

          • bmaz says:

            Uh, as presented, it was a civil matter. Involving an underlying criminal case, sure. But don’t act like she was on the criminal portion.

            It is weird how people still have their panties in a wad about Cannon and don’t care about what is going on in Fulton County.

            • David F. Snyder says:

              Smith has interviewed both Bowers (AZ) and Raffensberger (GA) — seems like the AZ AG is wisely letting the pros deal with the attempt at election interference, but should I be worried that the Fulton Co. DA can muck up DOJs case (presuming the DC GJ hands down indictments)?

              • bmaz says:

                Yes, indeed. But the equivalent would be the Maricopa County Attorney, not the AZAG. A county attorney who represents five times the amount of people the the Fulton County Attorney does. Yet, no, I would never condone that, and if she tried, I would work doggedly to get her out of office. And, as to the latter question, yes, you should indeed be worried about that.

                • David F. Snyder says:

                  Point take n. Any chance that Smith’s team tries to convince her of letting more experienced heads prevail? Like the El Paso Walmart perp had his federal trial first, and the State is following up?

        • vinniegambone says:

          The question about unordinary – unjustified rulings ? Did i understand that to be asking might they be teeing up some scheme, some chess move, where by the judge rules in such a way on something, even if it’s against them, that they can use later for appeal or some other kind of dodge ?
          An oops, my bad, ruling that saves them.?
          The extent to which she allows delays is first worry / test about her integrity, not that some might indeed be warranted. But this rocket docket business , she’s not consulting with Musk i hope for advice on how to engineer said rocket, is she?

          On the subject of the honorable, truly, Mr. BMAZ-
          what a treat to watch him work. He’s like the kid in the school yard with a wiffle ball bat, you know he’s not gonna hurt you, but you. also know he’s gonna wack you with it if you step over the stupid line.
          Thank you all for diligence and vigilance.
          We need you so much in a world where truth is gasping for air.

          • bmaz says:

            Oh man, chill out on Judge Cannon until she does something inappropriate, and she has not at all yet.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        The chances that she consulted with anyone before making her pretrial equitable jurisdiction SM appointment are small, but if she did, I assume it must have been John Eastman.

        • bmaz says:

          You have any facts for that bullhit? No, I do not expect you do. You appear to be like a watcher of Batman, selecting the villains you want and see. This is very much not how it works.

          • BRUCE F COLE says:

            I was warned by Rayne a few days ago to include snark tags when necessary. Unfortunately, my idea of necessary and yours doesn’t match up.~

            It was a comment on the similarities in thinking between Cannon’s execrable ruling, excoriated by a GOP bench, and Eastman’s bogus independent legislature wet dream which was summarily smashed by SCOTUS 7 months later. The joke is that Eastman’s faux-prestidigitation hadn’t been officially shot down yet, so Cannon’s EJ reach-around must have looked like a no-brainer…which, like all reach-arounds, it was.~

            From now on, snark tags will abound!~

            • BRUCE F COLE says:

              Oh, and I forgot to mention the “legal” similarities between those two cases, which is the underlying guiding wignut dictum:

              “If it helps Trump, make something up.”

              • CovariantTensor says:

                I don’t believe Cannon’s “special master” ruling, while it got seriously slapped down on appeal, is anything close to as egregious as Eastman’s theories for overturning the election (which I believe are getting him disbarred, if they haven’t already). So in addition to a snark tag, it should have a hyperbole tag.

                • BRUCE F COLE says:

                  The cases are dissimilar on many levels, of course, not to mention the fact that she’s a judge and he’s not. It was a fucking joke about how Cannon’s mindset and Eastman’s are not at all dissimilar — as well as a side note to the poster at the top of the thread that a judge’s ability to consult with “experts” (or not) doesn’t mean said advice will be solid.

                  I wasn’t submitting the comment as a JD thesis proposal, for christsake.

                    • BRUCE F COLE says:

                      As noted below, “my bad.” I have an aversion to them that I’m working to overcome. And that’s not even a joke.

              • bmaz says:

                If you cannot tell the difference between a spurious civil case and a criminal prosecution, you are commenting, and frequently so, in the wrong place.

                • BRUCE F COLE says:

                  I would have thought my use of the word “pretrial” in the comment you chided me for was an indication of being able to tell that difference.

                  But if you’re suggesting that a judge who “spuriously” and flagrantly flouted both the US Code and the Code of Conduct for federal Judges during a civil proceeding can’t take that same predilection into subsequent criminal proceedings on the same case, I’d like to hear what the mechanism is that prevents that.

                  Of course there is a mechanism that may well be tempering her predilections, that being Chief Judge Pryor’s participation in the SM appeal slapdown which certainly put her on notice. Whether she’s able to excercise more than minimal restraint in that regard is an open question, though, imo.

            • David F. Snyder says:

              “Humor is not permitted.” — (an aphorism, heard from Robert Fripp (who doesn’t claim to be the source)). 😀

              • gruntfuttock says:

                If you have seen Robert and Toyah’s Sunday lunches on youtube, you will know that Robert, despite his apparent seriosity, is actually no stranger to clowning about like a total idiot.

                I’ve also seen a lovely picture of him with David Sylvian in which he is laughing his tits off. I can’t find a link to it but it might be from one of their albums together.

                Humour is permitted but, presumably, within certain boundaries :-)

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    About those surveillance tapes, Trump has had them longer than the Feds, to whom he gave originals or a copy. Unlike the documents he stole, they are his property. If he wanted to review them, he’s had over a year to do it, to determine what might be incriminating or embarrassing, for example. I suppose most things are hard for a guy who can’t tie his shoes.

    And for a guy who claims to be a billionaire, and still pays what legal bills he pays through grift perpetrated on the rubes and stashed into his PACs, Trump seems unwilling to conduct or pay for his own defense. The purportedly voluminous discovery review wouldn’t be all that hard, if Trump weren’t intent on doing it himself. People make a good living doing exactly that.

    • Peterr says:

      And for a guy who claims to be a billionaire, and still pays what legal bills he pays through grift perpetrated on the rubes and stashed into his PACs, Trump seems unwilling to conduct or pay for his own defense.

      How do you think he (allegedly) became a billionaire? Trump makes Max Bialystock look like a pillar of rectitude.

    • Tech Support says:

      Well see this is where it gets really interesting. 57 terabytes, even by today’s standards, is a boatload of data. It’s not the kind of thing that you’d expect a non-technology business to store “on prem.” I am not an expert on digital security cam systems (even though I’ve had some superficial contact) so I can’t help but wonder if this footage is actually being stored in “the cloud.”

      So we could imagine that when the original subpoena was issued to Trump, they saved/exported what they were willing to share. If the original data is remotely hosted, is it possible that DOJ figured that out and issued a subpoena to the vendor? It could be that Trump’s team had no idea that DOJ basically got access to EVERYTHING that hadn’t been purged until the discovery process.

      • David F. Snyder says:

        DOJ definitely contacted the vendor. So did Nauta. Marcy wrote about that some a ways back. I imagine DJT and Nauta were only concerned with the moving of boxes, not the motion of trump cultists and foreign assets.

        • vinniegambone says:

          Any prohibition or legal reason DOJ couldn’t /didn’t subpoena the vendor first and then Trump ? Once they have their paws on the vendor’s data,and then they ask trump for
          his,its entrapment ?
          My guess is they subpoenaed both simultaneously.
          Trump’s own fault if he took time to create gaps , and Fed’s got the vendor’s tale of the tape first.
          Given the scope and seriousness the SC is investigating i am dismayed DOJ has not shown cause to a judge for use of informants, plants,or wire tapes, everything in the arsenal to monitor espionage suspects.
          How long has Waltine been with Trump?
          Always the butler, aint it ?
          Poor dude doesn’t understand what his days in prison are going to be like with a name like Waltine.
          Maybe they flipped him long ago, and he agreed to participate in surveillance.

          If doj had enough on John Gotti’s driver to get him to wear a wire, the doj and court’s wouldnt have agreed to that.
          Maybe Walter’s not worried his new friends in prison are going to find out Walter’s real name is Waltine.

          Cue Johny Cash – A boy named Sue. All together now…

      • emptywheel says:

        Yes, they definitely went to at least one vendor to get more footage.

        My suspicion is bc the Trump Org stashed video is preserved on motion, it made it easy to doctor bits, as I implied here.

        So after figuring there were obvious gaps, they went elsewhere. Not there was not a whiff of that obstruction in the existing indictment, so it may be something to look forward to (and could have venue in SDNY).

        • Savage Librarian says:

          In SDNY because that’s where any suspected editing may have occurred? But the camera action could still have lots more Mar-a-Lago stuff? Might there be Bedminster and Trump Tower footage as well?

          • Accidentalist says:

            More than Mar-a-Lago?

            I ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers the other day when the 57 hours figure was mentioned. Given 4K30p at 3Mbps HEVC (high resolution at a bitrate more suited to CCTV than what the ‘raw video’ implied to me) as a standard, that works out to ~6.4 cameras running 24/7 for those 9 months.

            Something like 3 hours per day per camera, for a motion-activated feed with high traffic, gets you up into the low twenties at a minimum, for the number of cameras they could be looking at video from.

            That could all be MaL, but there’s just not enough information to say it’s definitely too much footage for just one place, especially if the DoJ wanted everything from all the cameras, not just the ones with sight of the (initial) storage room.

      • Was_Alan K says:

        9 months of video has to be a lot of that 57TB. There are automated tools for processing video (I used to work for the team that implemented that for NYC’s street cameras). The software is *very* effective at facial recognition, and if anything moves (boxes) it is almost trivial to identify those moments and identify who is doing it. The data is probably stored on tape, and mount/unmount operations are done by robots. This is expensive stuff, but the FBI and DOJ surely have access to such facilities, as do high-end vendors.

        Trump is such a cheapskate. One has to wonder how much free cash flow is generated by his “businesses”.

        • d0m1nat0r81 says:

          Thinking as Trump (blacked out briefly while doing this….), why would I want to spend a bunch of money expediting his own curb-stomping?

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. “d0m1nat0r81” is your second user name; your first comment may have been published under your RL name. Please use this new username each time your comment going forward. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  4. boatgeek says:

    Another set of IANAL questions:
    Are the third party discovery reviewers established companies that basically just do this work? If they are, then it seems like future work would be highly dependent on them keeping their mouths shut. On the other hand, the Trump defenses are so leaky themselves, that the third party might get blamed for leaks that they weren’t responsible for.

    Do the discovery reviewers basically sift through the documents/video looking for things that appear either interesting or on a list of things that the legal team is looking for? (eg every time anyone opens the storage closet door between X and Y dates)

    Is it customary for the defendant or defense counsel pay the third party reviewers? If it’s the latter, the bills obviously roll up to the defendant, but the reviewer has a better shot at being paid.

    The first and last questions might influence how many third party reviewer companies would be interested in working the case. Or maybe it’s so big and important that everyone would be interested and it would just be down to the contract details.

    • David F. Snyder says:

      Insurance companies would not allow a vendor keeping data from investigations. Especially when the client is famous for their false claims.

  5. TimothyB says:

    Hypocrisy aside, this appears to be fairly routine lawyering by the side whose interests favor delay.

    It is nonetheless a terrific question what is in the materials that prosecutors or either defendant would not like to see public. The CCTV footage may show, as Marcie writes, that all kinds of folks were wandering around near unsecured national secrets. Can it go beyond that? So far, communications about the purloined materials have replaced actual exposure of the materials in DOJ filings, and I would expect them to stay on that path. Thus the ongoing searches of communications devices and their potential partial publication in motions (not leaks!) seem very important for what we learn before trial.

  6. Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

    I wonder how they came up with “nine months of footage”. If you played all the footage serially, then maybe there’s nine months. But if the footage is coming from multiple cameras (say 4 cameras), then you’re looking at about 2 months. It wouldn’t be too difficult for some savvy video service to playback any particular day on 4 separate monitors, which would significantly cut down on review time.

    Then again, as Marcy said team Trump knew this stuff was subpoenaed months ago, so if they were smart they would’ve already reviewed whatever was given to DOJ. They probably realize there’s nothing but bad news in the videos, so they’re just tossing this in as an “OMG how will we review 9 months of video when Trump is busy campaigning and we have other cases and does this mean we have to stay after 5?”.

    Edit: I see earlofhuntingdon already made my points. But I’ll just leave this here since it took me a while to type out, plus I want to get full credit :-)

    • Konny_2022 says:

      I think I read somewhere that the surveillance cameras were fitted with a motion sensor. If true that would boil down the time of recorded footage even more.

      • Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

        I thought of that too, but terabytes are terabytes. All the video should contain action. It brings up another point though: several literal months of action packed video is a lot of action. If the video is only from the key locations DOJ wanted, kind of seems like a lot of activity around the “boxes hoax.”

        • emptywheel says:

          As noted above, my GUESS is that they got the original motion sensor stuff back, realized Trump Org had used that to splice out key bits (easier if it’s motion sensor, I imagine), and so DOJ then went to the vendor.

          Just a WAG but consistent with what we know.

          • Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

            Yes, given my amateur video editing skills, and of course a decent supply of wild ass guess, a motion sensored recording should naturally looked chopped. One frame ends and another begins, with an obvious discontinuity. I imagine this makes fraudulently removing segments easier, but if there’s real time meta data (like a running date/time in the corner), it should make spotting such edits more obvious.

            I would not be surprised if team Trump, assuming there’s video tampering, used the services of an at best semi-skilled video editor, leaving them open to stupid when a real expert examines it.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump claims to have nearly unlimited resources, and still screams for his credulous supporters to give up paying their monthly drug, food, heating, and rent bills so that they can keep his treasury well-stocked. That should make his claim that he hasn’t time to prepare for his several trials irrelevant.

    Setting aside how little work Trump thinks is a big deal, and which he hasn’t done himself since school, his lawyers will do virtually all the prep and trial work. They will do the reading and research, critique the prosecution’s submissions, write motions, interview witnesses, negotiate schedules, trial submissions, and so on. Regardless of how much time a normal defendant spends assisting in her own defense, Trump will spend very little time on it, except what he obsesses over.

    Running for president or conducting any other business, absent a need to pay the rent, is a choice, too. “I’m too busy scuba diving or golfing to prepare for trial,” would similarly not be persuasive arguments.

    Trump has the resources to hire a hundred lawyers to prepare him for trial on a dozen cases. There’s no need to delay this trial until 2024 or later.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      But the universe of lawyers that are willing to work for Trump is a tiny universe (which apparently includes a family lawyer or two — who knew?).

      And fund-raising is the only thing he’s ever been good at. Why would he quit without being forced to?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The keys to that particular jail, as they say, are in his pocket. He need only pay up and shut up.

        As for the fundraising argument, it doesn’t scan. Anyone can say,, in effect, “All I’m good at is surfing/clowning/eating/arguing, so why should I stop.” It’s an argument that he needn’t grow up. He fund raises, I suspect, because he’s obsessed with money and never using his own to pay for what he wants or needs. But it’s not a legal strategy.

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          Yes, of course. Again, my failure to post a snark tag made it look like I was disagreeing with you. My bad. I was just shooting for a somewhat awkward reductio ad absurdum.

    • Anvil Leucippus says:

      Don’t you SEE?! He HAS to run for President of the United States!! It’s the only solution to save us all! /s

    • notjonathon says:

      “Setting aside how little work Trump thinks is a big deal, and which he hasn’t done himself since school”
      You don’t actually think he did his own schoolwork, do you? If you’re Trump, you either bully or hire someone else to do it for you.

  8. P J Evans says:

    Yahoo News, so take it with salt:

    On Monday morning, federal court records showed that U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon created what’s referred to as a “rocket docket” to speed his trial through the system.

    Cannon issued an order stating that the most historic criminal trial in American history will commence Aug. 14. That’s just 55 days away, while most federal trials take up to a year or more as both sides prepare for an epic showdown in court.

    Peter Carr, a spokesman for Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith, could not confirm that this decision was correct, and not simply a typo. Trump’s defense lawyers did not immediately respond to questions.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s a Daily Beast article by Jose Pagliery syndicated to Yahoo News. Yahoo News run a lot of stories from other outlets, need to check the underlying source.

      • NohRef23 says:

        False alarm, or rather false dawn. The Daily Beast piece by Pagliery was originally posted June 20–the day, a week after Trump’s arraignment, when Cannon first posited the August 14 trial date. Yahoo News is appropriately named.

        • P J Evans says:

          Thanks – I’d checked the docket and didn’t see anything like what they were referring to, but there were a couple of entries for today that were only on PACER.

    • c-i-v-i-l says:

      That’s 3 weeks old. The DOJ subsequently moved that the trial start on Dec. 11, and Trump and Nauta responded, asking Cannon to “deny the Government’s proposed scheduling order, withdraw the current Order (ECF No. 28) [with the August 14 trial date], and postpone initial consideration of any rescheduled trial date until after substantive motions have been presented and adjudicated.”

  9. dadidoc1 says:

    Perhaps I’m cynical, but the highly sensitive material might be video footage of the former President cruising around private areas of his home wearing a T-shirt and a Depends. Not exactly highly classified, but things he might not want a third party to view. Some things can’t be unseen.

  10. pdaly says:

    If the surveillance cameras were fitted with a motion sensor and only record when motion is detected, I wonder if the DOJ has a method for distinguishing a recording that was made that way from a recording that has missing/sliced out footage?

    • Dave_McC says:

      Really, the DOJ would be working directly with the vendor to establish that any exported video has the vendor’s (proprietary) means of unaltered video verification. Generally, Video Surveillance Vendors need to be able to prove (in court) that clips have not been altered.

  11. Ginevra diBenci says:

    I just want to underscore EW’s point, made in the post above, that when you see some revelation with Devlin Barrett or Josh Dawsey’s byline on it, yes–it’s a leak, but it’s *not* the kind that Trump (or Cannon) want you to believe it is.

    As soon as the debates start, we’re going to hear accusations of Jack Smith’s team “leaking,” from whichever GOP candidate (especially Trump) finds that advantageous. Such claims may very well get echoed by Judge Cannon as reasoning for certain rulings; she did this last year under similar circumstances.

    What you need to know: No one from DOJ is leaking! Almost every time, those “leaks” can ultimately be sourced to someone close to Trump. They are part of a strategy. It hasn’t been coherent, because with Boris Epshteyn and Tom Fitton taking charge incoherence reigns, but they seem generally intended act like airbags: when the crash comes and we learn something terrible about Trump, they’ve already inflated to absorb some of the impact.

    These leaks/not-leaks play a major role in blunting our reactions to the worst stuff. Nothing surprises us, because we already sort of knew it.

  12. kayonglenbrook says:

    Just wanted to thank Marcy for putting links to her articles on Mastodon.
    As a former Twitter lurker whose lurking has been stopped, it is helpful. I do miss her snark, but refuse to support elon by setting up an account.

  13. massappeal says:

    I’m old so please indulge me for quoting from an old, out-of-print book, Jimmy Breslin’s “How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer”:

    “For now, in December of 1973, the ultimate weapon of the bureaucracy, paper, was being used to end the career of Richard Nixon. Paper does not lose interest, nor does it get tired. Paper never goes away. With men, climates change, perceptions alter. What is on paper remains constant. The paper is in files, its carbon copies in other files. A subpoena. Thick, folded legal-bond paper. The prosecutor’s office has a copy, the court clerk has two copies filed, the lawyer of the person receiving the subpoena has a copy. Destroy one copy and three remain. Destroy two copies and still two copies remain. Postpone the hearing, protest it on legal technicalities, tie it up in the courts. Become sick and apply for further postponements. Take months, take years, it does not matter at all. The paper does not go away. It is there and everything is on it and there always is somebody ready to pull the paper out of the file and cause it to be acted upon. Paper defied the law of bribery. [-snip-]

    The public would tire of Watergate, the newspapers would begin to write of other things. The President would say it was over: let us go on to something else. And always the paper mounted and the files grew thicker and higher and the typists typed. The paper grew, the edges becoming sharper, sharper, sharper. Soon Richard Nixon would feel the pain as the paper began to cut his life away.”

    Today the evidence and the court filings are mainly in the form of pixels and terabytes, not paper; but the metaphor still works. The gears of justice (or at least, of prosecution under the law) grind very slowly and can be painfully slow to get in motion, but they have enormous power. Trump has spent his entire adult life throwing sands in those gears. Yet, there’s reason (much of it laid out on this website) to hope that this time he might not escape.

  14. John_11JUL2023_2057h says:

    Wait. If video was subpoenaed, Trump has to turn it over but it’s not like he cannot keep copies, right? I mean seizing stuff is one thing but normal subpoenas, even GJ ones don’t require one to divest themselves of possession of originals, do they?

    Put another way, hasn’t he had the video the entire time?

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  15. First Time, Long Time says:

    Marcy makes great points, as always. But there’s some tap dancing in the filings that seems important.

    In the special master proceeding, Trump’s lawyers state that they are prepared to use a third party vendor “to scan, process, host, and provide a review platform” for the seized materials. In the criminal case, they claim “all the discovery materials are sensitive and high-profile, [so] the Defendants are unable to utilize contract or other third-party reviewers to the extent such resources would normally be available.”

    The role of the vendor is materially important. Today, every lawyer uses vendors to collect, process, and host discovery documents whether collected from counsel’s client or received from opposing counsel. Whether counsel relies on that vendor to *review* those materials is a different decision. The pull quotes suggest that defense counsel in the criminal matter are concerned about hiring contract attorneys through their document vendor to review hundreds of thousands of discovery documents. That’s a distinct concern from the willingness in the special master proceeding to allow a vendor to process and host documents for review by, presumably, attorneys working for a court-appointed special master.

    I don’t know enough to gauge the merits of their claim that these documents are so “sensitive and high-profile” that yeoman contract reviewers can’t be trusted to do a first-level review. But it’s worth noting that the vendor functions in the two matters are distinct.

    • bmaz says:

      “Today, every lawyer uses vendors to collect, process, and host discovery documents whether collected from counsel’s client or received from opposing counsel”

      That is a categorically false statement.

      • theartistvvv says:


        Altho’ I welcome the confirmation that I’m not like, “every lawyer”.

  16. Susan D Einbinder says:

    Thanks so much for these updates! You refer to Trump throughout, as if he is the author of all of the legal documents and arguments. Is he dictating how things should go and be presented, or are his lawyers doing it? Or is it somewhere in between?

  17. Shadowalker says:

    It’s likely Trump is behind many of the filings. I think Trump is far more proficient in running a casino then he is at being a lawyer. And he’s a better lawyer than someone running for reelection to a public office.

  18. FrictionBlistered says:

    Your mention of the possibility that the surveillance videos’ reveal “who knows what foreign parties nosing through boxes in the gaudy bathroom” jumped out at me. That’s information that would be vital to us all, in and out of court. Could the Trump gang have decided on bathroom storage to avoid such exposure, assuming that surveillance cameras would not be installed in Mar a Lago’s bathrooms? I’m not saying that such recordings don’t exist. When dealing with Trump and his cronies, it is seldom a mistake to exclude the possibility of reprehensible behavior (e.g., ).

  19. Eichhörnchen says:

    The 9 months of CCTV footage would presumably NOT include the interior of the chandeliered bathroom. And I wonder whether the (presumed) lack of security camera in that room made it a desirable option for storing the files?

  20. xyxyxyxy says:

    What do you mean by “for reasons entirely unrelated to the case at hand” in “But I can understand why Trump wouldn’t want that video in the hands of anyone he couldn’t trust implicitly, often for reasons entirely unrelated to the case at hand.”

  21. Henry the Horse says:

    In true Trump lawyer fashion, these are not serious arguments.
    “Your honor, the secrets my client stole are so sensitive there is no way we can have a trial now, or maybe ever. After all, he was the President “.
    Trump is fighting in the court of public opinion and these are press releases.

  22. OleHippieChick says:

    Hello. Of all the images of The Boxes, the one botheringly outstanding is a roomful of some of The Boxes with a photocopier in their midst. I’m kinda surprised more hasn’t been made of it. This bugs me because it’s another damned tRUmp thing right in our face.

  23. Narpington says:

    Does the 9 months of video cover a 9 month period, or could it be eg.1 month from 9 cameras?

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