Former President Donald J. is under the supervision of federal prosecutors Trump’s handling of classified documents are seeking to pierce assertions of attorney-client privilege and compel one of his lawyers to answer more questions before a grand jury, according to two people familiar with the matter, adding an aggressive new dimension to the inquiry and underscoring the legal peril facing Mr. Trump.
A federal judge has granted approval to the prosecutors to invoke what’s known as the “crime-fraud exception”, which permits them to bypass attorney-client privilege if they believe legal advice or services were used. in Facilitating a crime It is notable that the prosecution invoked the exception in M. Evan Corcoran has filed a sealed request to compel testimony from the lawyer. It suggests they believe Mr. Trump or his allies might have used Mr. Corcoran’s services in This is how you do it.
Since last year, the Justice Department is examining whether Mr. Trump His associates or he obstructed the justice in Refusing to turn over a treasure trove of government materials he brought with him to the White House after he left office. This included hundreds of documents marked with classified marks.
In May of last year, the Justice Department subpoenaed any classified documents remaining. in Mr. Trump’s possession, after he had voluntarily turned over an initial batch of material to the National Archives that turned out to include almost 200 classified documents. He gave over 30 documents to investigators in June after meeting with Corcoran. in Respond to the subpoena.
A second lawyer to Mr. TrumpChristina Bobb then signed a declaration stating that she believed the allegations. “diligent search” Mar-a-Lago Mr. Trump’s residence and private club in Palm Beach (Fla.) and no other documents bearing class markings. Ms. Bobb told investigators that Mr. Corcoran had written the statement and she also added caveats in order to make it seem less ironclad.
The F.B.I. Mar-a-Lago searched however, in Agents found over 100 more classified documents on August 8. Agents found more than 100 additional classified documents in August, according to an affidavit filed by the Justice Department. “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction” It would be located in Search.
Recent appearance of Mr. Corcoran before a Grand Jury in Federal District Court in Washington, who is believed to be a lawyer-client privilege holder for Mr. Trump in Refusing to answer questions about his representation in Three people with knowledge of the case said that the investigation into the documents was ongoing.
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Uncertain if Mr. Corcoran tried to dodge answering questions by asserting attorneyclient privilege or what crime was cited by the Justice Department. in Invoking crime-fraud exemption in Its motion was sent to Judge Beryl A.Howell, chief judge. in Washington’s federal courthouse is responsible for overseeing all grand jury cases.
However, he was able to make his debut. in In front of the grand jury, Corcoran was notified by the Justice Department that they were seeking an exception to end his privilege assertions, according to people who are familiar with the matter. Judge Howell has been a consistent judge in the government’s favor on privilege issues surrounding Mr. Trump, will ultimately rule on the department’s request about Mr. Corcoran. Next month, she will retire as chief judge.
The push for Mr. Corcoran’s testimony is another sign of the aggressive efforts being made by Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing the investigations into Mr. TrumpIn order to obtain testimony. The investigation into Mr. Smith will be led by Mr. Smith. Trump’s handling of the classified documents and the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in Office after the defeat of his election in 2020: How they lead to the Jan. 6th, 2021 assault on Capitol.
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Uncertain if crime-fraud arguments were used. in the Justice Department’s motion to compel Mr. Corcoran’s testimony included evidence beyond what was initially contained in Search warrant affidavit.
The Justice Department was not immediately clear if Mr. Corcoran or Mr. TrumpBy Mr. Trump as well as by others, or Mr. Trump alone.
The Justice Department sometimes uses the exception for crime-fraud cases, but it is not always. in which lawyers and their clients team up to break the law, prosecutors more commonly invoke it when they believe a client is improperly using a lawyer’s services in Legal experts consider it to be the advancement of a crime.
“The attorney does not have to be a co-conspirator,” John S. Martin Jr. served as U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of New York.
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. The spokesperson for Mr. Trump Did not reply to requests for comment.
Prosecutors The investigators have been interviewing witnesses to ask about Boris Epshteyn who played an important role in the investigation of documents. in Coordinating lawyers for several investigations that involved Mr. TrumpAccording to several people familiar with the situation, it is. He was the first to bring Mr. Corcoran into Mr. Trump’s orbit.
At least three lawyers have sat for interviews with the Justice Department during which questions about Mr. Epshteyn were asked — among them Ms. Bobb and, more recently, Alina Habba, people with knowledge of the matter said. The third close associate of Mr. TrumpJesse Binnall has spoken to prosecutors also about Mr. Epshteyn according to people.
According to one person who was briefed, investigators are interested in the interviews. in Discussions between Mr. Epshteyn, others, about the possibility of establishing a common-interest privilege in The documents case. Common-interest privilege is a type of umbrella privilege that allows clients and lawyers to talk confidentially.
The person who was briefed said that prosecutors want to know if Mr. Epshteyn tried to influence witnesses’ testimony.
M. Binnall refused to comment.
Advocates for or advising Mr. Trump They have played a central role in Both the Jan. 6 and documents were investigated.
A federal judge in California published an opinion in A civil action was filed last year, arguing that reasonable evidence showed that Mr. Trump John Eastman (another one of his attorneys) had also conspired to co-operate in at least two criminal acts in Their efforts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election were described as conspiracy to defraud America and obstruction of a formal proceeding before Congress.
In a lawsuit, Mr. Eastman sought to block the House select committee that was investigating Jan. 6’s investigation from getting some of his email. He claimed many emails were covered by attorney-client confidentiality. David O. Carter was the judge who overruled Mr. Eastman and gave the email access to the committee citing the exception for crime-fraud.
In June, federal agents armed with a search warrant seized Mr. Eastman’s phone in connection to Jan. 6 Investigation.
William K. Rashbaum Jonah E. Bromwich Contributed reporting