By Jack Queen
(Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump and his lawyers may only review classified evidence in a secure place as he prepares for a criminal trial over his handling of secret documents after he left office in 2021, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has been charged along with two aides with illegally storing troves of classified documents at his personal residence and lying to federal investigators who sought to retrieve them.
He had opposed strict security protocols for the classified evidence as inconvenient, saying he and his lawyers should be able to review them in his office at his Mar-a-Lago estate, his personal residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
Wednesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida is a win for prosecutors, who said it would be inappropriate for Trump to be able to review classified documents at the very location where he is accused of illegally and haphazardly storing them.
The order requires Trump and his lawyers to review and discuss all classified evidence in what is known as a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF.
Trump was charged in an indictment in June with criminal counts, including violations of the Espionage Act, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and making false statements to investigators.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the charges, along with his co-defendants Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira.
Trump is also under indictment in Washington, D.C., and Georgia over his alleged efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden and in New York over a hush-money payment he paid to a porn star.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing in all the cases. He has said they are part of a political plot to prevent him from retaking the White House in the November 2024 election.
(This story has been refiled to add the dropped word ‘not’ in paragraph 7)
(Reporting by Jack Queen; Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub, Paul Grant and Susan Heavey and Jack Queen; Editing by Grant McCool and Howard Goller)