Judge Issues Vague Response To Trump's Mar-A-Lago Classified Information Request

Former President Donald Trump has received a response to his request that he be permitted to discuss classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home — the same sprawling club where he is accused of improperly keeping such information.

The response, however, is a bit vague.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon did not address the Florida golf resort explicitly. But in a 16-page protective order issued Wednesday, she appeared to side primarily with government prosecutors who argued for heavy restrictions on Trump’s ability to discuss classified information used in his criminal case.

The former president was charged in June over his handling of boxes of classified government documents; he allegedly kept them in poorly secured spaces within the club, including a bathroom.

Lawyers for Trump asked Cannon to allow him to set up a secure facility known as a SCIF at Mar-a-Lago — like he had when he was president.

Prosecutors working with special counsel Jack Smith argued that allowing him to review classified information at his home would amount to “special treatment that no other criminal defendant would receive.” The club, where Trump has lived since decamping from the White House, is open to hundreds of members.

Cannon’s order simply said that Trump and his team are required to discuss all classified information at “an accredited SCIF,” suggesting he may have to travel to such a facility to discuss his case in any detail.

A designated classified information security officer, or CISO, is in charge of making sure Trump has access to a SCIF during “business hours ... and at other times upon reasonable request as approved by the CISO in consultation with the Court and United States Marshals Service,” according to the order.

Any violations could result in additional criminal or civil penalties for Trump.

The order encompasses not just the documents that makes up the case, but any “verbal or other unwritten or unrecorded information” that has been classified and that Trump and his lawyers know about. Their notes about the case are also subject to the order, whether they are handwritten, oral or electronic.

The case Cannon is overseeing in Florida is just one of two federal criminal cases against Trump. The other is based in Washington, D.C., and deals with his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Meanwhile, Trump is facing state-level charges in Georgia and New York.

Each case has subjected the former president to certain rules about what he can say in relation to the proceedings — and he has appeared intent on toeing a fine line.