Request to Redact Witness Names Approved by Trump Trial Judge

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents case last Tuesday granted the prosecution’s request to keep the names of witnesses sealed, handing special counsel Jack Smith’s office a partial victory, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors had asked District Judge Aileen Cannon to prevent the disclosure of all witness statements in their entirety, however, the judge refused to go that far, saying there was no basis for such a blanket restriction.

The issue arose in January after the defense filed a motion seeking to require the prosecution to turn over a trove of documents they claimed would bolster their argument that the Biden administration was weaponizing the government to target the former president.

Trump’s attorneys asked to file the motion in unredacted form but the prosecution objected to unsealing the filing since it would reveal the identities of possible government witnesses.

Cannon allowed Trump’s legal team to file the motion in unredacted form as long as personal information about potential witnesses remained redacted.

The special counsel’s office asked the judge to reconsider her decision, arguing that if the witnesses were publicly identified, it would subject them to possible harassment and threats.

In her April 9 order, Judge Cannon agreed to require the names of witnesses to be redacted but criticized the special counsel’s office for waiting so long to make its current arguments.

At the same time, Cannon rejected the prosecution’s request to seal the substance of all witness statements from pretrial motions. Instead, she only agreed to seal any details of statements that could reveal the identity of the witnesses.

Cannon explained that the cases the special counsel’s motion cited did not “lend support to this sweeping request.” She added that “based on the Court’s “independent research,” it would have been “unprecedented” for the court to grant the special counsel’s request.

There is still no firm date for the trial in the case. However, both prosecutors and the defense have said they would be ready to go to trial this summer.