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May 20, 2024: Aileen Cannon’s Still Not Totally Unreasonable Order

Judge Aileen Cannon has set a date for Donald Trump’s second criminal trial: May 20, 2024, to follow a second rape trial (in December) and a hush payments cover-up trial (in March).

Rape, sex workers, and then stolen classified documents, that’s what Trump will be doing as he tries to run for President.

Her order is not, on its face, unreasonable. It sets a CIPA trial for 49 weeks after it was charged, which is solidly within the scope of what it normally takes to bring these cases to trial. She has made this a complex case which is similarly not unreasonable.

The most unreasonable part of her order, thus far, is that she set the trial to be held in her tiny courtroom in Fort Pierce, making it utterly unworkable for the press.

Calendar call in this matter will be held on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at 1:45 p.m. in the Fort Pierce Division. The case is set for Jury Trial in the Fort Pierce Division during the two-week trial period commencing on May 20, 2024.

The second most unreasonable part of her order is that she has treated the classified protective order as a month-long fully briefed affair, effectively absolving Trump and his co-defendant of conferring like grown-ups, such that classified discovery might not begin until after August 25, two months of delay she is adding to this timeline on top of the three months of delay she created last year.

Finally, she deferred on the question of whether the election will make jury selection next May impossible.

Defendants identify various additional factors the Court deems unnecessary to resolution of the Government’s motion at this juncture, most principally the likelihood of insurmountable prejudice in jury selection stemming from publicity about the 2024 Presidential Election [ECF No. 66 p. 9].

Again, this is not unreasonable, at least thus far. But she is letting Trump and Walt Nauta stall by obstructing from the outset.

Poof! How Jack Smith Made 800,000 Pages into 4,500

This post talks about what the government filing in the Trump stolen documents case says about the evidence. This other post talks about the legal argument against a delay.

As I noted, Trump’s response to DOJ’s bid for a December trial made an argument for complex designation, based in part on the volume of evidence involved. If that argument convinces Aileen Cannon, Trump is more likely to get her to order a significant delay.

It’s a reasonable argument — and would be more so were the discovery burden as onerous as Trump laid out.

But at least according to the government’s reply, it’s not. Not even close. The government reply shows how Trump inflated these numbers and how the government has streamlined the discovery process.

Whereas Trump claimed there were 800,000 pages of evidence,

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.

DOJ noted that only about 4,500 of that is “key” to the case and a third of that consists of email headers involving two people.

Although the Government’s production included over 800,000 pages, the set of “key” documents was only about 4,500 pages. 2

2 Nearly one-third of the over 800,000 pages consists of non-content email header and footer information obtained pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) for two account holders.

Whereas Trump complained about 57 terabytes of surveillance footage,

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).

DOJ explained that while the footage might be selected from across nine months of time, here, too, DOJ has selected the key bits and “many” of the cameras don’t record continuously (which means some do, which would be stuff obtained since the August search).

The Government similarly identified to the Defendants a small subset of “key” CCTV footage referenced in the Indictment or otherwise pertinent to the case. See id. And although the CCTV footage the Government obtained and produced comes from various months, the Defendants’ characterization of the production as including “nine months of CCTV footage,” see Resp. at 4, is misleading. The Government obtained footage only from selected cameras (many of which do not continuously record) from selected dates throughout the period for which it obtained footage

This argument may well make or break the government’s bid for a timely trial, because they’ll need to refute Trump’s complex designation bid to keep on a tight schedule.

And that’s one of many reasons (another is to make sure Trump and, especially, Walt Nauta can see what else they might be looking forward to) why they’re basically providing everything up-front, include Jencks production reflecting what witnesses have said about this case, which they’re not obligated to turn over until the morning of trial. And they’re providing every witnesses’ testimony, not just those they’re calling at trial.

The Defendants also rely on the Government’s statement in its discovery letter that “there will be additional productions of discovery” related to some devices and search warrant returns, and note that “the Government has not produced all interview-related materials, including certain witness statements and associated memorialization of those statements.” Resp. at 4. Defendants omit representations in the Government’s discovery letter about the timing of discovery that has been and will be provided. The Government has informed the defense that it intends to disclose promptly all witness statements and associated memorialization of those statements, even if they would not be discoverable under 18 U.S.C. § 3500. To that end, the Government has already produced all unclassified witness statements and the associated memorialization of those statements for interviews that occurred prior to May 12, 2023, and transcripts of all grand jury testimony from the District of Columbia and the Southern District of Florida through the present. See ECF No. 30 at 1. In the next week, the Government will produce unclassified witness statements and associated memorialization for interviews conducted between May 12, 2023, and June 23, 2023. The Government has made these productions promptly following arraignment despite having no obligation to do so. See ECF No. 28 at 4, obligating the Government to turn over Jencks Act material no later than “the morning of the first day of trial.”

With respect to the devices and search warrant returns, the Government has produced all applications for search warrants and the warrants themselves, in order to facilitate the Defendants’ ability to file pretrial motions. The Government has also produced all relevant content from devices it obtained, except for (a) three devices that were produced voluntarily, the relevant content of which will be produced in the next week; and (b) two of Defendant Nauta’s devices. For Defendant Nauta’s devices, the Government has already produced much of the responsive filtered, scoped content based on the Government’s earlier review of the devices’ content in a different form. In short, the Government has promptly produced thorough discovery in an organized manner, to include early production of Jencks Act materials. It also bears emphasis that the Government has already sought a nearly four-month continuance of trial, in part because of the need for both sides to review and process discovery. Mot. at 3. There is no discovery-related reason to further delay the jury selection in this case beyond December 2023. [my emphasis]

The government really did have this prosecution all prepped to go.

The rest of this, while also intended to help persuade Judge Cannon that the government has done everything it can to facilitate discovery here, provides a few interesting details about the case.

First, one of the last things the government is turning over are the three devices produced voluntarily. These probably came from a cooperating witness or witnesses, and if that’s right, DOJ may have held them until everyone had filed their appearance and signed a protective order, since any cooperating witnesses are most likely to be targeted for harassment.

The government seems to have seized two of Walt Nauta’s devices recently, possibly with arrest. The government seems to think they had most of this content already (perhaps from a backup). The phones themselves might include Signal or other encrypted app primarily available from the phones themselves.

The timing described is the most interesting thing:

  • The first batch of discovery included everything prior to May 12, around when Jack Smith decided to charge this in Florida
  • The government is about to turn over everything between May 12 and June 23
  • It has already provided all grand jury testimony from grand juries in DC and SDFL

Note the last bullet: You don’t need to specify that you’re referring to the DC and SDFL grand juries if they are the only ones.

Indeed, the scope of that discovery suggests DOJ may have started with a third grand jury after June 23. It’s not even — necessarily — New Jersey (though that’s the most obvious possibility). If evidence was altered in New York, it could be there too.

The government has provided Trump and Nauta virtually every unclassified thing they’d need to defend this case and bundled it up to make it easy (which, again, will also make it easier for Nauta to decide whether he really wants to risk his future on Trump winning the 2024 election).

The hold-up now is that at least two attorneys have not submitted their SF-86 forms to get clearance — which, the government helpfully notes, are due today: “The Court has set a deadline of today for them to do so. ECF No. 57.”

Meanwhile, any other hypothetical grand juries can keep working.

Update: Both Trump and Nauta’s lawyers have submitted their certificates of compliance with Judge Cannon’s order that they submit their SF-86 forms by yesterday. Chris Kise, who is the lawyer who may be disqualified from clearance (because he has recently worked as an agent of Venezuela’s government), technically did not comply: he still has to be fingerprinted, though promises that will be done by next Monday. Meanwhile, Nauta’s lawyers have laid the groundwork for a 6th Amendment challenge to the requirement that they get clearance. It’s an interesting issue, but he’s being disingenuous about why Judge Cannon (separation of powers) and the jury (because they only see things after CIPA has been finished) don’t need clearance.

Update: ABC reports that the guy who handled the surveillance video has received a target letter.

Special counsel Jack Smith in recent weeks transmitted a target letter to the staffer indicating that he might have perjured himself during a May appearance before the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the classified documents probe, the sources told ABC News.

[snip]

Reached Thursday by ABC News, the employee declined to answer questions about a possible target letter and his discussions with investigators, saying only, “It’s none of your business.”

Stanley Woodward, a lawyer who has represented the employee and who represents several other Trump advisers, declined to comment to ABC News.

By description (see this post for background), this is the IT contractor Yuscil Taveras (whom NYT described to be represented by Woodward) not longtime maintenance guy Carlos Deoliveira (whom WaPo described to be represented by John Rowley).

This makes the timing of the discovery more interesting. The government is about to turn over DC grand jury materials and other interviews from after May 12 — that is, they haven’t yet turned over Taveras’ to Woodward. That suggests they may be about to charge him before they turn that over.

Taveras testified to the DC grand jury, so if he is charged with perjury, he’ll be charged there.

This likely complicates Woodward’s life significantly.

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), https://www.washingtonpost.com/nationalsecurity/2022/09/06/trump-nuclear-documents/, 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.

When “Lock Her Up!” becomes “Wait Till Later!”

Last month, I did a post noting the legal significance of two paragraphs in Trump’s indictment, one quoting Trump’s promises to protect classified information during the 2016 election, and another quoting Trump’s rationale for (pretending to) strip John Brennan of clearance for using classified information for his own gain.

Here’s the paragraph quoting just some of the times Trump used a promise to protect classified information to beat Hillary Clinton.

22. As a candidate for President of the United States, TRUMP made the following public statements, among others, about classified information:

a. On August 18, 2016, TRUMP stated, “In my administration I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”

b. On September 6, 2016, TRUMP stated, “We also need to fight this battle by collecting intelligence and then protecting, protecting our classified secrets. . . . We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified.”

c. On September 7, 2016, TRUMP stated, “[O]ne of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.”

d. On September 19, 2016, TRUMP stated, “We also need the best protection of classified information.”

e. On November 3, 2016, TRUMP stated, “Service members here in North Carolina have risked their lives to acquire classified intelligence to protect our country.”

The two paragraphs played a certain role in proving that Trump understands the import of classified information. But they also, I argued, bundled a public integrity component up inside this Espionage Act trial.

That is, they laid out how Trump himself has argued that voters need to know whether you’re going to mishandle classified information before they cast their votes.

Those paragraphs may come in handy as DOJ attempts to respond to Trump’s opposition to the government’s proposed schedule for trial. Because he is now arguing that he’s too busy running for President to take time out to be tried for stealing classified records.

Note that Trump misrepresents what his filing attempts to do (and few journalists are calling him on it). The filing is titled, “Response in Opposition to the Government’s Motion for Continuance and Proposed Revised Scheduling Order” — that is, it claims to be responding only to the government’s pitch for a December trial. But the first paragraph admits that it is also asking Cannon to entirely withdraw her own orders setting trial in August.

The Defendants, President Donald J. Trump and Waltine Nauta, in the above captioned matter, respectfully request that this Court deny the Government’s proposed scheduling order, withdraw the current Order (ECF No. 28), and postpone initial consideration of any rescheduled trial date until after substantive motions have been presented and adjudicated. [my emphasis]

As we all hold our breath to see how Cannon will respond to this request, understand that Trump has pitched this (smartly, probably), as him against the government, but there’s a tiny chance Cannon will be miffed Trump is downplaying her own authority both here and (as I note below) on picking a jury.

There are many reasonable parts of this filing:

  • Trump argues this case should get complex case designation, leaving a longer time for pretrial proceedings (though he falsely claims the government is asking for an “expedited” trial)
  • Trump states that CIPA is going to take some time
  • Trump claims that this trial will present a number of matters of first impression — or at least matters of first impression for this Circuit (for example, Trump and Paul Manafort, have already lost on Special Counsel authority in DC, but not in the Eleventh Circuit)
  • Trump unsurprisingly calls all the classified designations as “purported,” which reserves the issue for trial
  • Trump describes that jury selection will be onerous (this is one issue on which Cannon has already issued a ruling)
  • While Trump is bullshitting that he’s being tried by his opponent, it is true that there should be as little secret evidence in this case as possible

Much of it is typical defense attorney argument about the need to adequately review the evidence before figuring out where to go next — though this filing pitches what is actually fairly modest discovery, if you ignore the CCTV footage, as a great burden.

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).

There’s a hilarious line where the same guy who consented to a discovery vendor to turn some of this very same evidence for a Special Master review before this very same judge less than a year ago now says the use of such vendors will be impossible given the “sensitive and high profile” nature of the case.

Since, unlike 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.

And Trump pitches a one year investigation as a totally long time — without mentioning that he, with Judge Cannon’s help, caused three months of that duration by demanding a stay in the investigation, to say nothing of his months of obstruction before that.

The Government’s investigation into the matters at issue in the indictment has been ongoing for over a year.

There’s a funny progression where Trump first says his day job running for President doesn’t leave him time to be prosecuted for stealing documents the last time he was President, then admits that he has found time in his busy schedule for two other trials.

President Trump is running for President of the United States and is currently the likely Republican Party nominee. This undertaking requires a tremendous amount of time and energy, and that effort will continue until the election on November 5, 2024. Mr. Nauta’s job requires him to accompany President Trump during most campaign trips around the country. This schedule makes trial preparation with both of the Defendants challenging. Such preparation requires significant planning and time, making the current schedule untenable and counseling in favor of a continuance

[snip]

Finally, previously scheduled trials in other matters for both President Trump and defense counsel make it nearly impossible to prepare for this trial by December 2023. For example, President Trump and Mr. Blanche are preparing for a March 2024 criminal trial in New York Supreme Court; Mr. Kise and President Trump are preparing for a lengthy civil trial in New York Supreme Court commencing October 2, 2023;

[snip]

The pendency of these other proceedings and their collective impact on the ability of defense counsel to prepare effectively for trial also support granting a continuance pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii) & (iv).

But, given that he got elected the last time by promising he would be more careful with classified information than his opponent, the most remarkable paragraph in the filing is this one, where Trump says there is no exigency to scheduling this trial (as opposed to his hush money or corporate fraud trials) before the election.

While the Government appears to favor an expedited (and therefore cursory) approach to this case, it cannot point to any exigency or urgency requiring a rapid adjudication. There is no ongoing threat to national security interests nor any concern regarding continued criminal activity

I suspect the paragraph is designed to elicit a response to the question, “is there any concern regarding continued criminal activity?” That is, I think it is an attempt to probe for what more the government continues to investigate.

And yes, the government may well respond to this by answering, “funny you should mention ongoing threats to national security because we’re still looking for all the things that disappeared up at Bedminster.”

But the underlying premise is even more remarkable, given how Trump’s got elected the last time.

Trump says that there is no exigency in telling the citizens and voters of the United States whether the last time he was President, all the promises he made to get elected were just bullshit, because in fact he used his position of power to steal the nation’s secrets and store them in his chandeliered bathroom.

There is a lot that is reasonable in this filing.

But at its core, it argues that a guy accused of using the access to the nation’s secrets he got by getting elected President on false promises the last time, should get a shot at accessing those secrets again, without first letting a jury decide whether he had abused his position of power the last time.

Trump promised voters in 2016 that he would protect classified secrets; it’s actually a key part of how he got elected. Now he says voters shouldn’t have a chance to find out whether he broke that promise before going to the polls again.

Update: This post originally suggested current Trump lawyer Todd Blanche was on Paul Manafort’s team when he tried to challenge Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel authority. That’s not the venue in which Blanche represented Manafort.

Update: Judge Cannon has reset the CIPA conference for Tuesday afternoon, as all parties had agreed would work.

Stanley Woodward Tests Judge Aileen Cannon’s Patience

Just days into Pro Hac Vice admittance before Judge Aileen Cannon, Walt Nauta’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward, is testing (as in, probing) her patience, to see how much she will play along with obvious attempts to stall this case.

He and the government have submitted dueling filings about whether the CIPA conference scheduled for Friday should be postponed to some uncertain time.

Before I get into what they say, remember that Woodward is being paid by Trump’s PAC, which is also under investigation for raising money promising one thing and then spending it on other things — such as paying for Woodward’s legal fees.

Remember, too, that after months of claiming that DOJ had screwed up by not immunizing Walt Nauta — a strategy that got his client charged in an Espionage Act indictment (in some legal circles, a sign of a legal strategy that has backfired, potentially catastrophically), Woodward then adopted a new strategy: belatedly accusing Jay Bratt of bullying him because Bratt tried to prevent him from setting his client up to be charged.

Finally, consider that we’ve already seen stories suggesting that Trump plans to stall this out past November 4, 2024, so he can pardon both of them.

The pace of hiring an attorney for Nauta has been slow — as has been the speed with which Trump is beefing up his own criminal defense team. Nauta continues to work for Trump’s organization and Trump’s political committee is financing his employee’s legal representation. Inside the former president’s orbit, top aides are prepping for a protracted and litigious fight with prosecutors that draws out the entire legal process through the 2024 general election that Trump hopes to win for a return to the White House.

“If you ask three different people in Trump world what’s going on, you’ll get five different answers,” said the source familiar with discussions. “But the reality is there’s no rush to do this. This seems to be their posture: ‘The case is probably going to happen after the election anyway [on Nov. 5, 2024]. So what’s the rush?’”

And before I present Woodward’s seven (!!!) excuses for not being able to make Friday’s hearing, consider that according to the government, Woodward hasn’t even submitted his SF-86 form required before he can get clearance.

Nauta’s second justification for a continuance is a claim that Mr. Woodward cannot “meaningfully” participate in a discussion about classified discovery or a CIPA discovery schedule at a Section 2 conference until obtaining a security clearance. Motion at 3. But he cites no case holding that a Section 2 conference is contingent on counsel having clearances, which is unsurprising since such a requirement would be inconsistent with Section 2’s language that “[a]t any time after the filing of the indictment or information, any party may move for a pretrial conference to consider matters relating to classified information that may arise in connection with the prosecution.” 18 U.S.C. App.3 § 2. Perhaps more to the point, as of this writing, Mr. Woodward has yet to complete his Form SF-86, which is necessary for him to receive both an interim clearance and final adjudication, despite having been put in contact with the Litigation Security Group on June 12, some three-and-a-half weeks ago.

With all that laid out, ready for Woodward’s seven complaints?

1) First, that DOJ charged his client in Trump country rather than in DC.

With little notice to Defendant Nauta, the operative indictment in this matter was returned in this District and only recently, on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, did Defendant Nauta retain local counsel, Sasha Dadan.

2) Then, that he opposed having a CIPA conference at all (a claim the government says is not true).

Although government counsel asked whether Mr. Nauta’s longtime counsel opposed such a hearing – we did – and provided an electronic courtesy copy of the same, the government did not request any dates when defense counsel would be unavailable for such a conference.

3) Then, that Nauta had delayed so long in hiring a Florida lawyer that poor Stan Woodward had no way to object on his own.

At that time, Mr. Nauta, through counsel was not receiving electronic notices through the Court’s CM/ECF filing system, the government did not advise counsel that the pretrial CIPA conference had been scheduled, and even when counsel did learn of the conference, Mr. Nauta had no ability to formally move the Court for relief based upon his counsel’s unavailability. Rather, it was not until Wednesday, July 5, 2023, that Mr. Nauta retained local counsel, Sasha Dadan, and Thursday, July 6, 2023, that Chief Magistrate Judge Torres entered an Order permitting Mr. Nauta, through counsel to file electronically with the Court.

4) Then, that Woodward has a trial for Freddie Klein this week (the government says it — this prosecution team — did not know that — it seems that Woodward is relying on prosecutors on a 1,000 defendant crime scene investigation to track Woodward’s other clients).

As the government has long been aware, Mr. Nauta’s longtime counsel, Mr. Woodward, is scheduled to begin a Bench Trial in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on July 10, 2023.

5) Woodward then says that even though he’s not required to attend, Nauta should be able to demand that he attend.

Presumably, the government will argue that Mr. Woodward’s appearance is unnecessary. But see Flanagan v. United States, 465 U.S. 259, 268 (1984) (like the Sixth Amendment right to self-representation, the right to counsel of choice, “reflects constitutional protection of the defendant’s free choice independent of concern for the objective fairness of the proceeding”). And defense counsel is aware of the Court’s admonishment that, “[l]ocal counsel must be ready to adequately represent [Mr. Nauta] at any time.” Paperless Order (July 7, 2023).2 However, as the government notes in its application for the hearing, a pretrial CIPA conference permits the Court to, “consider matters related to classified information that may arise in connection with the prosecution.” Motion at 6 (June 23, 2023) (ECF No. 32) (quoting 18 U.S.C. App. III § 2).

6) Woodward doesn’t see the point of using CIPA in a case charging 31 of the most sensitive documents ever charged in an Espionage Act case.

To that end, the government only broadly describes the basis for its request for a pretrial CIPA conference: “to establish a discovery and motion schedule relating to any classified information.” Motion at 19 (June 23, 2023) (ECF No. 32). Yet, defense counsel cannot meaningfully opine on, “a discovery and motion schedule relating to any classified information,” before their provisional security clearances, let alone complete clearances, have been approved.

7) Even though his brand spanking new co-counsel (who mostly does family law kinds of things but also dog bites) is obligated under local rules to hit the ground running, she’s not ready to hit the ground running.

Nor is it feasible to expect Mr. Nauta’s local counsel to appear at a pretrial CIPA conference and to agree upon, “a discovery and motion schedule relating to any classified information,” barely a week after she has been retained by Mr. Nauta.

2 Mr. Nauta respects the Order of the Court and submits that it was not unreasonable for him to retain local counsel and thereafter request this Court accommodate the unavailability of his longtime counsel, Mr. Woodward insofar as Defense counsel would note that Local Rule 4 of the Rules Governing the Admission, Practice, Peer Review, and Discipline of Attorneys for the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida, which pertains to the admission of out-of-state attorneys pro hac vice does not indicate that the sponsoring attorney be required to, “be ready to adequately represent the defendant at any time.”

Tune in in January, when Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he needs to delay his trial because he has primaries to run in. It won’t be his fault that the lawyer his PAC is paying invented frivolous cause for day, after all.

As I said, Woodward is testing Judge Cannon’s patience. And why wouldn’t he? If she conducts herself like she did last summer, he’ll be able to buy Trump all the time in the world.

Walt Nauta and the Single Box

The section of the less redacted search warrant affidavit showing when Walt Nauta moved boxes in and out of the storage room differs from the timeline shown in the indictment in one key way.

The search warrant affidavit used to demonstrate probable cause doesn’t describe how, on May 22 of last year, the former valet spent over half an hour in the storage room, and then left carrying a single box.

53. On May 22, 2022, NAUTA entered the Storage Room at 3:47 p.m. and left approximately 34 minutes later, carrying one of TRUMP’s boxes.

There are several possible explanations why that description may not be in the search warrant affidavit.

Perhaps investigators didn’t think it important — though that would be hard to believe, given that the affidavit observes something that the indictment does not as explicitly: that all this box moving happened in the same period when Nauta disavowed any knowledge of box movement.

On May 30, 2022, four days after WITNESS 5’s interview with the FBI during which the location of boxes was a significant subject of questioning, WITNESS 5 is observed exiting the ANTEROOM doorway with approximately fifty Bankers boxes, consistent with the description of the FPOTUS BOXES. [my emphasis]

Perhaps investigators simply didn’t see Nauta and the single box on May 22. But note that the surveillance video was motion activated, so any movement on May 22 should show up just like all the other movement did, and in close proximity to his movements captured two days later.

[T]he FBI determined that the drive contained video footage from four cameras in the basement hallway of the PREMISES in which the door to the STORAGE ROOM is located. The footage on the drive begins on April 23, 2022, and ends on June 24, 2022. The recording feature of the cameras appears to be motion activated, so that footage is only captured when motion is detected within each camera’s field of view.

Or perhaps this movement, Nauta spending half an hour in the storage room then leaving with a single box, is one of the surveillance footage gaps that investigators spent much of a year trying to fill and explain.

The different treatment of this one box is more interesting given other details of the timeline.

For example, Nauta retrieved that single box just two days before the original deadline for the subpoena, May 24.

The return date of the subpoena was May 24, 2022.

Nauta retrieved that box the day before Trump met with Corcoran and another attorney who hasn’t been IDed yet, but who may be Boris Epshteyn. At the meeting, a day after presumably getting a box that didn’t show up in the search warrant affidavit, Trump whined that, “I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes!”

54. On May 23, 2022, TRUMP met with Trump Attorney 1 and Trump Attorney 2 at The Mar-a-Lago Club to discuss the response to the May 11 Subpoena. Trump Attorney 1 and Trump Attorney 2 told TRUMP that they needed to search for documents that would be responsive to the subpoena and provide a certification that there had been compliance with the subpoena. TRUMP, in sum and substance, made the following statements, among others, as memorialized by Trump Attorney 1:

a. I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t, I don’t want you looking through my boxes.

b. Well what if we, what happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?

c. Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?

d. Well look isn’t it better if there are no documents?

Amidst all that whining, Trump agreed to let Corcoran search for documents, but only after a ten day delay. And then Trump delayed his departure to Bedminster so he would be at Mar-a-Lago to sort boxes and to see the scheme through.

56. On May 23, TRUMP also confirmed his understanding with Trump Attorney 1 that Trump Attorney 1 would return to The Mar-a-Lago Club on June 2 to search for any documents with classification markings to produce in response to the May 11 Subpoena. Trump Attorney 1 made it clear to TRUMP that Trump Attorney 1 would conduct the search for responsive documents by looking through TRUMP’s boxes that had been transported from the White House and remained in storage at The Mar-a-Lago Club. TRUMP indicated that he wanted to be at The Mar-a-Lago Club when Trump Attorney 1 returned to review his boxes on June 2, and that TRUMP would change his summer travel plans to do so. TRUMP told Trump Attorney 2 that Trump Attorney 2 did not need to be present for the review of boxes.

57. After meeting with Trump Attorney 1 and Trump Attorney 2 on May 23, TRUMP delayed his departure from The Mar-a-Lago Club to The Bedminster Club for the summer so that he would be present at The Mar-a-Lago Club on June 2, when Trump Attorney 1 returned to review the boxes.

Something that doesn’t show up in the indictment but does in the affidavit is that Corcoran then pushed for an extension on the subpoena deadline.

On May 25, 2022, while negotiating for an extension of the subpoena, FPOTUS COUNSEL 1 sent two letters to DOJ COUNSEL. In the second such letter, which is attached as Exhibit 1, FPOTUS COUNSEL 1 asked DOJ to consider a few “principles,” which include FPOTUS COUNSEL 1’s claim that a President has absolute authority to declassify documents. In this letter, FPOTUS COUNSEL 1 requested, among other things, that “DOJ provide this letter to any judicial officer who is asked to rule on any motion pertaining to this investigation, or on any application made in connection with any investigative request concerning this investigation.”

Just one of the two letters Corcoran sent that day has been released — the one falsely claiming Trump had returned documents in good faith earlier that year, though Corcoran may not have known that was false. Nauta would repeat a version of that claim the next day, on May 26, in his FBI interview, though unlike Corcoran, he is credibly accused of knowing well that was a lie.

All the other movement of boxes, then, occurs during that subpoena extension (and this might be another reason why the May 22 movement is not included on the affidavit — perhaps investigators focused on what happened during the subpoena extension). Nauta empties the storage closet of 64 more boxes, moving all these boxes in the same week when, in an FBI interview, he allegedly denied knowing anything about an earlier scheme to sort through boxes.

On May 24, 2022, WITNESS 5 is observed exiting the ANTEROOM doorway with three boxes.

On May 30, 2022, four days after WITNESS 5’s interview with the FBI during which the location of boxes was a significant subject of questioning, WITNESS 5 is observed exiting the ANTEROOM doorway with approximately fifty Bankers boxes, consistent with the description of the FPOTUS BOXES. FBI did not observe this quantity of boxes being returned to the STORAGE ROOM through the ANTEROOM entrance in its review of the footage.

The next day, on June 1, 2022, WITNESS 5 is observed carrying eleven brown cardboard boxes out the ANTEROOM entrance. One box did not have a lid on it and appeared to contain papers.

And then, after Nauta told a female Trump that Trump wanted to pick from all those boxes, Nauta loaded up several of the boxes withheld from Corcoran’s search onto Trump’s plane to take to Bedminster, never to be seen again.

72. Earlier [on June 3], NAUTA and others loaded several of TRUMP’s boxes along with other items on aircraft that flew TRUMP and his family north for the summer.

So it may or may not be a significant detail, but the day before Trump orchestrates this scheme to keep 35 boxes shielded from Corcoran’s search, Nauta spent half an hour in the storage room retrieving a single box.

Some weeks after this scheme, on June 21, the day before DOJ asked Trump Organization for surveillance footage, per the discovery letter, Nauta appeared before a grand jury, his second (and only other) interview with investigators.

A bunch of reports last year, such as this one from Devlin Barrett that likely confuses Nauta with Molly Michael, described that Nauta changed his testimony in what would be this grand jury appearance, admitting that Trump ordered him to move boxes.

When FBI agents first interviewed Nauta, he denied any role in moving boxes or sensitive documents, the people familiar with the situation said in interviews before Nauta’s name became public. But as investigators gathered more evidence, they questioned him a second time and he told a starkly different story — that Trump instructed him to move the boxes, these people said.

But those reports came at a time when DOJ was still trying to get more testimony from Nauta.

Prosecutors have indicated they are skeptical of an initial account Mr. Nauta gave investigators about moving documents stored at Mar-a-Lago and are using the specter of charges against him for misleading investigators to persuade him to sit again for questioning, according to two people briefed on the matter.

So, particularly given that a grand jury appearance would have been in — and so would be charged — in DC, it’s not really clear whether Nauta did correct his story before the grand jury. If he didn’t, Jack Smith could prosecute Nauta individually on a perjury charge that might go to trial within months, not the year the Espionage Act trial is expected to take.

Whether or not he cleaned up his testimony, on June 21, Nauta appeared before the grand jury.

Having locked that testimony in, on June 22 prosecutors asked Trump Organization — probably Alan Garten, from whom discovery has been deficient in past investigations — for surveillance footage.

DOJ COUNSEL has advised me that on or about June 22, 2022, counsel for the Trump Organization, a group of business entities associated with FPOTUS, confirmed that the Trump Organization maintains security cameras in the vicinity of the STORAGE ROOM and that on June 24, 2022, counsel for the Trump Organization agreed to accept service of a grand jury subpoena for footage from those cameras.

Shortly after that, per reporting on some of the last grand jury testimony banked in DC before DOJ took steps to charge the Espionage charges in Florida, Nauta called Chief of Operations for Trump Organization, Matthew Calamari Sr.

To resolve the issue about the gaps in the surveillance footage, the special counsel last week subpoenaed Matthew Calamari Sr, the Trump Organization’s security chief who became its chief operating officer, and his son Matthew Calamari Jr, the director of corporate security.

Both Calamaris testified to the federal grand jury in Washington on Thursday, and were questioned in part on a text message that Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, had sent them around the time that the justice department last year asked for the surveillance footage, one of the people said.

The text message is understood to involve Nauta asking Matthew Calamari Sr to call him back about the justice department’s request, one of the people said – initially a point of confusion for the justice department, which appears to have thought the text was to Calamari Jr.

Then, less than two weeks later, on July 6, Trump Organization provided DOJ with surveillance footage showing Nauta moving a great many boxes out of the storage room, and moving fewer than half of them back in before Evan Corcoran searched them. That’s pretty damning stuff! It provided some of the most compelling evidence in the affidavit justifying a search on the former President’s beach resort.

DOJ only got two months of footage, not the five they had asked for (which would have covered the tail end of the earlier sort of boxes). That’s unsurprising: even normal businesses only retain such footage for a limited period of time.

But in addition to obtaining fewer months than they had requested, the footage Trump Org turned over reportedly had other gaps, gaps that have not yet been charged or even mentioned, at least in unsealed form, in any official DOJ filing.

What’s unclear is whether that May 22 footage, showing that Nauta spent half an hour in the storage closet only to come out with a single box, was originally one of those surveillance gaps or not.

Trump’s Stolen Documents: Newly Unsealed Numbers

DOJ has unsealed more of the original August 5, 2022 search warrant to search Mar-a-Lago. Here are some interesting numbers:

  • At one point there were 85 to 95 boxes of documents in the storage room
  • Walt Nauta was called “Witness 5” in the affidavit, meaning in addition to the enumerated lawyers and persons there are at least four other people described in the affidavit; now he’s alleged co-conspirator 1
  • DOJ’s math on how many boxes Walt Nauta had moved in and out of the storage room was pretty close, estimating he had moved 15 to 30 boxes back into storage — per the indictment, the number was 30
  • On first request, DOJ only obtained two months worth of surveillance footage showing what was being moved in and out of the anteroom to the storage room
  • Evan Corcoran’s search of boxes lasted 2.5 hours
  • Trump may have waited three weeks after Jay Bratt’s request on June 8 to secure the storage room to put a padlock on the door

One other detail of interest is that DOJ started tracking what was in a banker’s box, and what had been moved into a plain cardboard box.

Moving the Boxes: Trump’s Valet and Alleged Co-Conspirator Buys the Boss a Three-Week Delay in His Trial

According to the motion to seal filed in his case, DOJ warned Walt Nauta he was a target of the stolen documents case on May 24, 34 days ago.

After he and his boss were indicted on June 8, he was issued a judicial summons, alerting him that his prosecution would take place in the Southern District of Florida, which has strict rules requiring a local attorney to appear and remain counsel, and scheduling a June 13 arraignment. That was 19 days ago.

But Nauta was not arraigned on June 13, as Trump was, because he had not yet arranged for local counsel.

That delay was totally excusable. There aren’t that many people in SDFL who are qualified for a case like this in the first place. And those that are may balk at the pre-existing conflict structure here, with Stan Woodward paid by Trump’s PAC, which itself is under criminal investigation. And those aren’t the only ethical concerns I would have about taking on this case.

But today’s delay is far less defensible. Particularly given the theater Woodward created surrounding the event.

Woodward made much of the fact that poor Walt Nauta was stuck on the tarmack yesterday at Newark Airport with flight delays and cancellations due to the same bad weather that I was planning around last Saturday when I was in New York state.

That was all a distraction. Nauta’s presence wasn’t required at the arraignment. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman excused Nauta’s attendance at today’s hearing during Trump’s arraignment.

You only tell that story in a court room to get credulous journalists — like CNN — to report that as the primary reason for the delay. It had no legal import. (Note: Most initial Twitter coverage parroted Woodward’s weather excuse, but most outlets fixed that on publication of their stories.)

The rain had nothing to do with today’s delay. Nauta’s failure, thus far, to retain a Florida attorney was the only reason for the delay.

And there’s certainly reason to wonder whether that delay is intentional. Marc Caputo’s report on Nauta’s search for a Florida lawyer quotes someone “familiar with the discussions” stating that the trial won’t happen before the election, so (or perhaps, “because”) “there’s no rush to” find a lawyer.

The pace of hiring an attorney for Nauta has been slow — as has been the speed with which Trump is beefing up his own criminal defense team. Nauta continues to work for Trump’s organization and Trump’s political committee is financing his employee’s legal representation.

“If you ask three different people in Trump world what’s going on, you’ll get five different answers,” said the source familiar with discussions. “But the reality is there’s no rush to do this. This seems to be their posture: ‘The case is probably going to happen after the election anyway [on Nov. 5, 2024]. So what’s the rush?’”

Speaking to the Messenger before Tuesday’s arraignment hearing got delayed, the source said Nauta would likely have a lawyer within the coming weeks.

So now Nauta is not scheduled to be arraigned until July 6 (his personal appearance has again been excused), a full four weeks after his indictment, and the same day on which Judge Cannon has ordered the defense to weigh in on proposed schedule for the trial.

This is, in my opinion, why Jay Bratt proposed a schedule showing that it is possible to try this case such that it would be done — even assuming three weeks of jury selection and three weeks of trial — before the first primary. Any delay past that schedule comes from Trump. And his alleged co-conspirator, Walt Nauta, whose job is to move boxes for the boss.

What is going to happen is that Trump will cause enough of a delay to push this into the primary season, and once that primary season trial happens, he will wail about how the trial interferes with his right to be elected President on false claims again, so he can steal more classified documents.

And his trusty valet, Walt Nauta, has just bought 23 days of delay for his arraignment to help ensure that happens. He’s moving the boxes again to help his boss obstruct justice.

Update: WSJ has since updated a story that included only the storm excuse to note that the real reason for the delay was that Nauta has not yet retained a lawyer.

The Approach to Classification in Trump’s Stolen Document Case

The government has submitted materials in support of a requested continuance until December in Trump’s stolen documents case:

The Motion to Implement Special Conditions is basically a bid to get a list of 84 witnesses submitted, via sealed filing, to docket, and so subject to Judge Aileen Cannon’s discipline. Under the order issued by Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, both Trump and Walt Nauta will be prohibited from speaking about the facts of the case with any of the 84 witnesses — a great many of whom are Trump employees — except through counsel.

Even at the arraignment, Todd Blanche balked at this condition, which Goodman imposed without DOJ requesting it. In particular, I think Blanche wants people to be able to discuss the case without counsel present so long as counsel has advised about that.

But per the filing, defense attorneys may yet object to the condition itself.

2 The government has conferred with counsel for Defendant Trump and Defendant Nauta about this motion. They have authorized government counsel to represent the following: “Defense counsel takes no position on the government’s motion to seal the list of witnesses, but the defense reserves the right to object to the special condition and the manner in which it was implemented by the government by providing a list of 84 witnesses in purported compliance with the court’s order.” Counsel for defendant Nauta, Stanley Woodward, has not yet been admitted pro hac vice or entered an appearance, but the government is providing him a courtesy copy of this pleading.

I would love to see briefing on this, because I think Blanche has specific concerns about preserving the nesting gatekeeping that has existed from the start of this. But this condition, if upheld, will also stymie Trump’s efforts to fundraise by lying about this case.

The other request is a motion to delay the trial — which Aileen Cannon initially scheduled for August — until December, largely for CIPA to play out. This is totally normal, and given Cannon’s past history in criminal cases — which Kyle Cheney reviewed here — there’s no reason to expect she would object (indeed, legally, CIPA requires her to work through this process).

The proposed schedule would envision a trial before the first primary, but it triggers everything to Trump (and Nauta’s) responsiveness. I suspect it was crafted to undermine any claims from Trump that DOJ is responsible for a trial as people are voting, but some of these deadlines are really aggressive.

Most interesting, though, is DOJ’s treatment of clearances. According to Jay Bratt’s declaration, once defense attorneys get their SF-86 filing in, the Litigation Security Group has committed to turning around their initial clearances unbelievably quickly: two days. And it has likewise committed to sharing SIGINT documents based just off that interim clearance.

To be granted an interim security clearance, defense counsel must submit a Standard Form 86 – Questionnaire for National Security (“SF-86”) and supporting documentation. To date, not all of the defense counsel have submitted their SF-86s. Once an SF-86 and supporting documentation are submitted, absent complicating circumstances, an interim clearance may be granted within a matter of days. In this case, LSG has committed to reaching an eligibility determination within 24-48 hours of the completed submission. Once defense counsel are granted interim security clearances, the government will be able to provide the vast majority of classified discovery, consisting of documents marked CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET, including documents within the following Sensitive Compartmented Information Compartments: SI, SI-G, and TK. [my emphasis]

You can see from the list of charged documents, that would encompass many of the charged documents (some of the redacted classifications are probably SI-G).

But there are others that require further read-in.

However, interim security clearances are not sufficient for the government to provide in classified discovery a small number of documents-including some documents whose unauthorized retention is charged in the indictment-that contain restricted compartments for which a final security clearance and additional read-ins are required. LSG estimates that final clearances may be granted within 45 to 60 days of submission of the SF-86 and related documentation, depending upon the content of the applicant’s SF-86. The additional read-ins can be conducted promptly upon access approval. [my emphasis]

Among the unredacted classification marks not included among those Bratt listed are FR (Formerly Restricted, a nuclear designation under the Atomic Energy Act and one Presidents can’t declassify alone) and HCS-P (HUMINT product). The bolded language suggests that DOJ is planning to share all classified documents Trump stole; based on the redaction marks in the May 11 subpoena, I would be unsurprised if there were HCS-C, HUMINT collection, documents included as well.

This is an incredibly aggressive approach. As I’ve said, I think DOJ would prefer to find a way to get Trump to plead out, however unlikely that would be. The sooner they share documents with Trump and Nauta’s lawyers, the sooner they might be in a position to persuade Trump how bad this will look if he goes to trial.

But note the two caveats: At least one of three known defense attorneys has not yet submitted his SF-86, the list of foreign contacts needed to obtain clearance. At least one of them — Chris Kise, who worked for Venezuela’s government — may not be eligible.

So one other underlying context to this is that until Trump can find cleared attorneys, he may be responsible for delays that would result in a trial during the primary season.

Walt Nauta Testified to the Grand Jury before DOJ Obtained Surveillance Video

DOJ has turned over the first tranche of unclassified discovery in the Trump stolen documents case. It includes recordings, plural, of interviews Trump did, complete copies of the surveillance footage DOJ obtained, and pictures even beyond those included in the indictment.

The second part includes a reproduction of “key” documents and photographs included in Production 1 that are referenced in the Indictment and others determined by the government to be pertinent to the case. The third part consists of complete copies of closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage obtained by the government in its investigation. To facilitate review, the government also identified and separately produced for the defense “key” excerpts from the CCTV footage, including excerpts referenced in the Indictment or otherwise determined by the government to be pertinent to the case.

As I’ve suggested, DOJ would prefer to get Trump to plead out. It’s possible there is discovery that will make him decide going to trial will be more damaging for him than pleading out.

The discovery memo also reveals that Walt Nauta testified to the grand jury on June 21 of last year.

The June 21, 2022 grand jury testimony of Defendant Nauta.

This was days before DOJ subpoenaed surveillance footage on June 24. That puts the alleged conflict between Jay Bratt and Nauta’s attorney, Stan Woodward, in different light.

Nauta was not charged with perjury for that appearance, suggesting he already fixed his testimony before DOJ obtained the surveillance footage.

But not before his alleged lies in May helped Trump abscond to Bedminster with more classified documents.