Judge bars Donald Trump from publicly sharing evidence in secret documents case

A federal judge issued a protective order Monday barring former President Donald Trump from having access to discovery evidence in his classified documents case without a lawyer present, and from sharing the information with the public or the media.

The order by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart also applies to Waltine “Walt” Nauta, Trump’s former White House valet, who has been charged with Trump in the 38-count indictment. Both men appeared in federal court in Miami last Tuesday, and Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 charges alleging he kept national defense records after leaving the White House and conspired to obstruct justice by hiding them. Nauta was given permission to get a second attorney on his legal team before entering a plea.

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Reinhart’s order applies not only to discovery materials, which is the potentially exculpatory evidence gathered by prosecutors and shared with the defense, but also “any information derived therefrom.” Violations of the order could result in contempt of court or civil or criminal sanctions against Trump and Nauta, the ruling said.

Lawyers for Trump and Nauta did not object to the government’s request for the protective order, which was filed Friday by special counsel Jack Smith.

Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, said such protective orders are standard practice in federal cases involving accusations of mishandling classified national security documents and suspected violations of the Espionage Act.

“The government wants to be careful, and this is just one more standard piece of that practice,” Moss told USA TODAY. He said Trump’s history of trying to gain political mileage from his legal troubles may have factored into their decision, “but this is something I would expect to see in just about any Espionage Act case.”

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