Federal prosecutors overseeing the classified documents case against former President Donald J. Trump said in court documents Friday that the evidence they are about to give to the defense as part of the normal discovery process contained information about “ongoing investigations.” that could “identify non-indicted individuals”.
The court documents, a standard request to place a protective order on the discovery material, contained no explanation as to what those other investigations might be or whether they were related to the indictment detailing charges against Trump of illegally withholding dozens of national defense documents and obstructing government efforts to recover them. The documents also did not identify who the people without charges were.
Still, the reference to continuing investigations was the first overt, albeit vague, suggestion that other criminal cases could emerge from the work special counsel Jack Smith has done in filing the Espionage Act and obstruction charge against Trump in Miami last week.
Mr. Smith is also overseeing the parallel investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election and the subsequent assault on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters on January 6, 2021.
Smith’s team has questioned some witnesses close to Trump in connection with the investigations into the documents and election interference.
The government’s motion for a protective order, which Trump’s lawyers did not oppose, said prosecutors were ready to start handing over a large amount of unclassified evidence they had collected during the document investigation. That included information on investigative techniques, material related to potential witnesses, and things like grand jury transcripts, exhibits and recordings of witness interviews, according to the motion.
He also sought to restrict the release of the evidence to Trump’s legal team; people who might be interviewed as witnesses and their lawyers; and to others expressly authorized by the court.
At some point, Smith’s team will have worked out a process for sharing with Trump’s lawyers the 31 highly confidential documents at the center of the prosecution, some of which refer to nuclear and military capabilities. On Thursday, Judge Aileen M. Cannon, the Trump appointee presiding over the case, told the lawyers they needed to begin the process of obtaining security clearances to review the classified documents.
On Friday, two of Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche and Christopher M. Kise, notified Judge Cannon that they had contacted the Justice Department to expedite the clearance process, which could take about a month.
Shortly after the government filed for the protective order, Judge Cannon asked the federal judge assigned to help her with the case, Bruce E. Reinhart, to handle the issue of imposing it. It is common in the Southern District of Florida for magistrate judges, not district judges like Judge Cannon, to handle pretrial motions.
Judge Reinhart is no stranger to the case. Last summer, he issued a warrant used by the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, suggesting he believed there was probable cause for investigators to find evidence of a crime. In the complex.
It could be a significant breakthrough if Judge Reinhart handles the more substantial legal motions to be filed by Trump’s lawyers in the coming months, given that Judge Cannon was widely criticized for handing down pro-Trump rulings at an early stage. research stage.