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Judge Cannon jumpstarts oversight of Trump classified documents case with order on security clearances

US District Judge Aileen Cannon issued her first order since former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith for allegedly mishandling classified information, instructing the parties to get the ball rolling to obtain security clearances for the lawyers who will need them.

In a Thursday order, Cannon gave “all attorneys of record and forthcoming attorneys of record” a Friday deadline for getting in touch with the Justice Department’s litigation security group so that they can expedite “the necessary clearance process.” By June 20, she wants the lawyers to file a notice confirming they have complied with her instructions.

Both of Trump’s attorneys – Todd Blanche and Chris Kise – have already been in touch with the Justice Department about obtaining the necessary security clearances to try the case, a source familiar with the outreach told CNN Thursday evening.

Cannon’s order reflects how the case concerns highly sensitive, classified materials – adding another layer of complexity to the high-stakes, first-of-its-kind federal prosecution of a former president.

How long the proceedings stretch out, and whether the trial takes place before or after the 2024 election, will depend in part on how efficiently Cannon manages her docket. Thursday’s move by Cannon suggests an interest, at least for now, in moving the proceedings along without delay.


The new order also puts additional pressure on the Trump effort to expand the legal team representing him in the case. The local rules for the Florida court where the case was filed require that Trump have counsel barred in the state.

At Tuesday’s initial appearance hearing, joining Trump at the defense table was Kise, a former Florida solicitor general who was able to waive in the appearance of Blanche, who is not barred in Florida but who was the second attorney representing Trump at the hearing.

Blanche previously had a clearance and a member of Kise’s legal firm who will be assisting him in the case has a security clearance now, the source told CNN.

Trump is still looking to add another attorney to his team who will also need to obtain a clearance.


Walt Nauta, Trump’s bodyman and co-defendant in the case, had not secured a local attorney to sponsor the appearance of his DC-based attorney by Tuesday’s hearing, and thus was not able to enter his plea.

The proceeding for Nauta to enter his plea is scheduled for June 27.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

Published: 2023-06-16 10:20:59


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