U.S. District Judge Eileen Cannon issued her first order since former President Donald Trump Innocent Special counsel Jack Smith advised the parties to get the ball rolling to obtain defense clearances for lawyers who are required to file charges of mishandling confidential information.
In a Thursday order, Cannon gave a Friday deadline for “all attorneys of record and prospective attorneys of record” to contact the Justice Department’s litigation defense team so they can expedite the “necessary clearance process.” By June 20, he wants the lawyers to file a declaration confirming compliance with his instructions.
Both of Trump’s lawyers — Todd Blanche and Chris Kiss — have already contacted the Justice Department about obtaining the necessary security clearances to investigate the case, a source familiar with the outreach told CNN Thursday evening.
Cannon’s order reflects how the case involves highly sensitive, classified material — adding another layer of complexity to the first-of-its-kind federal prosecution of a former president.
How long the proceedings last, and whether the trial takes place before or after the 2024 election, will depend on how well Cannon manages his docket. Cannon’s Jupiter move suggests an interest in moving things along without delay, at least for now.
The new order puts additional pressure on Trump’s efforts to expand the legal team representing him in the case. Local rules for the Florida court where the suit was filed require Trump to disbar counsel in the state.
Joining Trump at the defense table at Tuesday’s initial appearance hearing was former Florida Solicitor General Kiss, who was able to waive an appearance for Blanche, who is not barred from Florida but was the second attorney representing Trump in the trial.
Blanche was previously cleared, and a member of Kise’s law firm who is assisting her in the case now has security clearance, the source told CNN.
Trump still wants to add another attorney to his team, and he needs to get approval.
Walt Nauta, Trump’s bodyman and a co-defendant in the case, did not get a local attorney to sponsor his DC-based attorney’s appearance at Tuesday’s hearing, and thus was unable to enter his plea.
Proceedings for Nauta to file his petition are scheduled for June 27.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.