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Trump’s Legal Team Demands Access to Classified Documents, Criticizes ‘Frivolous’ Claims

Donald Trump’s legal team is intensifying efforts to gain access to classified documents at the center of his criminal case. Special counsel Jack Smith has sought to redact certain information, but Trump’s lawyers argue against these redactions. The case revolves around charges that Trump illegally retained classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructed justice. Here’s the latest in this legal battle.

Trump’s Legal Battle Over Classified Documents

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Former President Donald Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the alleged illegal retention of classified documents after leaving the White House. He has pleaded not guilty, and the trial is scheduled for May 20, 2024, though it may face delays.

Request for Access to Classified Documents

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In December, Trump’s attorneys requested access to documents filed under Section 4 of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), which is typically restricted from defense counsel.

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Trump’s Lawyers Challenge Secrecy Claims

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Trump’s legal team has criticized the claim that certain aspects of the documents are too sensitive to be shared with them as “frivolous.” They argue against the special counsel’s “attempt to hide unclassified arguments.”

Unclassified Portions Under Scrutiny

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Trump’s lawyers point out that some portions of the documents are marked as unclassified, including parts of the special counsel’s “argument sections.” They assert that CIPA does not apply to unclassified information.

Trump’s Access to Classified Information

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Trump’s attorneys emphasize that classified information was accessible to him during his tenure as president, suggesting that it’s improper to withhold such information now.

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Need-to-Know Requirement

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They argue that Trump should be entitled to a waiver of the “need-to-know” requirement because of his prior access to similar information.

Legal Challenge to Ex Parte Proceedings

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Trump’s lawyers express concerns about ex parte proceedings, emphasizing that cleared counsel should be permitted to review and contest justifications for such proceedings.

Trump Requests Transparency

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In their conclusion, Trump’s legal team requested that the court order the special counsel’s office to provide Trump’s cleared counsel with access to all submissions under CIPA Section 4 and to release redacted versions publicly.

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Smith’s Response to the Request

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Special counsel Jack Smith has countered Trump’s claims, stating that neither Trump nor his co-defendants have provided sufficient justification for deviating from the standard process for handling classified information.

Security Clearances Not a Guarantee

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Smith argues that having security clearances does not automatically entitle individuals to classified information, as a “need-to-know” requirement must also be met.

The Bigger Legal Picture

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This case is one of four criminal prosecutions Trump faces as he seeks to return to the White House. His legal battles extend to charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, his actions in Georgia, and a hush money payment during the 2016 campaign. Throughout these legal challenges, Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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