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Judge bars Trump from disclosing — or keeping — evidence in documents case

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart held that evidence Trump's team is set to receive from the government shall not be "disseminated on any news or social media platform."
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A federal judge issued a protective order Monday barring former President Donald Trump from disclosing on social media — or keeping — evidence the government is set to turn over to him in the classified documents case.

The order prohibits Trump and Walt Nauta, his co-defendant in the criminal case alleging he mishandled national security information, from sharing evidence federal investigators are scheduled to begin turning over to their lawyers as part of the discovery process.

"The Discovery Materials, along with any information derived therefrom, shall not be disclosed to the public or the news media, or disseminated on any news or social media platform, without prior notice to and consent of the United States or approval of the Court,” Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said in the order.  

It bars them from disclosing information about the government's evidence to people not directly involved in the case without explicit permission from a judge and warns they could face criminal contempt charges if they violate the order.

It also limits Trump's access to the material.

"Defendants shall only have access to Discovery Materials under the direct supervision of Defense Counsel or a member of Defense Counsel’s staff. Defendants shall not retain copies of Discovery Material," the ruling said.

Donald Trump boards his airplane, after speaking at a campaign event in Manchester, N.H.
Donald Trump boards his airplane after having spoken at a campaign event in Manchester, N.H., on April 27. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The ruling largely tracks with a request for a protective order the government filed Friday. The government said in the filing that Trump's and Nauta's lawyers had "no objections to this motion or the protective order."

Trump attorney Todd Blanche declined to comment on the order.

The information prosecutors sought to guard includes "sensitive and confidential information," including "information that reveals sensitive but unclassified investigative techniques; non-public information relating to potential witnesses and other third parties (including grand jury transcripts and exhibits and recordings of witness interviews); financial information of third parties; third-party location information; and personal information contained on electronic devices and accounts."

"The materials also include information pertaining to ongoing investigations, the disclosure of which could compromise those investigations and identify uncharged individuals,” their filing Friday said.

Trump, 77, was indicted this month on 37 federal felony counts, including willful retention of national defense information, making false statements and representations and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last week. Nauta, whose lawyer has declined to comment on the case, is expected to plead not guilty next week.

Trump was slapped with a similar order in the New York criminal case in which he's charged with dozens of counts of falsifying business records. Trump's attorneys had objected to parts of the order in that case.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office said the restrictions were necessary because the “risk” that Trump would use the evidence “inappropriately" was "substantial.”

“Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk,” the DA’s office had argued in a court filing.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in that case.