The jury in Trump’s potential trial could get a glimpse of some government secrets – but like Goldilocks, prosecutors must make sure classified documents are accurate

Former President Donald Trump had classified documents stored in a bathroom and shower at Mar-a-Lago.

Former President Donald Trump had classified documents stored in a bathroom and shower at Mar-a-Lago.Department of Justice; Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

  • Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 counts related to the retention of classified documents.

  • These same classified documents could now be used in a possible lawsuit against the former president.

  • The “Goldilocks” documents could be shown to a jury and calm the intelligence agencies on the classified information.

Prosecutors pressing former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case must now try to find the right “Goldilocks” evidence to reveal to a jury in a possible trial.

On Tuesday, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 counts related to keeping classified documents after he left the White House.

Those same classified documents will make it difficult for prosecutors trying to expose the seriousness of Trump’s actions to national security to show sensitive evidence.

A law known as the Classified Information Handling Act, or CIPA, guides the discovery process for cases involving classified documents. The 1980 Act added procedures to determine which classified documents can be used. According to the Department of Justice, this forces the court to issue protective orders on documents that absolutely cannot be revealed during the trial. The CIPA also outlines rules under which defense attorneys can request that classified documents be revealed to help their own cases.

It will be essential to strike a balance between the documents proving the prosecution’s point of view and allowing the defense to respect the right to due process while ensuring that national secrets are not compromised.

What are “Goldilocks” documents?

Former DOJ prosecutor David Aaron described them to the Washington Post as “Goldilocks” documents – files that can both be shown to a jury but allay the concerns of intelligence agencies who want to keep their most important information. sensitive.

“They want the document on its own to be a flashing red light that it obviously shouldn’t have been deleted,” Aaron told the Post. “Prosecutors are scrambling to identify documents that would be useful as evidence and also wouldn’t require a ton of technical explanation to the jury. They need them to be sensitive, but not overly sensitive.”

Aaron told the Post that intelligence agencies would also determine how classified documents would be brought up in a public trial. He told the outlet that one way trial participants do this is to speak in code or vague descriptions, known as the silent witness rule. The public will not understand what is being referred to, but the judge, defense, prosecution and jury will.

“You could use ‘country A’ instead of a specific country, ‘person A’ instead of a specific person, and the jury would have a key,” Aaron told MSNBC. “Or you could show those documents that are referred to in the indictment to the jury, and you wouldn’t put them on the screen like in an ordinary case. And your witness could say to the jury, ‘If you look page two, line five’ and describe what happens there without revealing any of this classified information.”

Trump’s next court date has yet to be set after his landmark federal indictment as prosecutors lay out the evidence against him, but there’s still a chance Trump won’t stand trial at all.

And if a trial doesn’t happen before the 2024 election and Trump becomes president, he could try to forgive himself.

A representative of Trump’s legal team did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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