Trump Lawyer to Testify in Mar-a-Lago Case After ‘Extraordinary’ Last-Minute Legal Battle
A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ordered an attorney for former President Donald Trump to comply with a federal grand jury subpoena to testify and provide records relevant to the probe into the potential mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
After the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision, lawyer Evan Corcoran is expected to appear before the jury on Friday, a source close to the matter told CNN.
Earlier on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that another Trump attorney, Jennifer Little, is also expected to give testimony before the grand jury this week.
The move comes after a dizzying overnight saga in which the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys for Trump filed rapid-fire motions, dueling over Corcoran’s testimony. At the heart of the matter was a Friday ruling in which a federal judge reportedly sided with the DOJ, finding that Corcoran could be compelled to testify because prosecutors had sufficient evidence Trump may have used one of his defense attorneys in an alleged bid to mislead investigators.
The appeals court’s decision upheld that lower court’s finding.
After temporarily staying Howell’s order on Tuesday night, the appeals court gave Trump’s team until midnight to specify which documents were at issue. The DOJ, in turn, was ordered to file its response by 6 a.m. Wednesday. Reasons for the unusually expedited filing deadline, as well as its ramifications, were not immediately clear.
Federal prosecutors filed a more than 6,000-word response shortly before the deadline.
Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice to investigate Trump’s potential mishandling of classified documents, had requested Corcoran appear before the grand jury after finding “compelling preliminary evidence” that Trump knowingly misled his own legal team about holding onto the records after leaving office, sources told ABC News on Tuesday.
Smith’s reported findings were referenced in the sealed filing penned Friday by a former top federal judge, the sources said. U.S. Judge Beryl Howell, who stepped down as the D.C. district court’s chief judge on the same day, reportedly wrote that Smith’s prosecutors had made a “prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations.”
Smith made the request despite Corcoran’s attorney-client privileges—which are sometimes pierced under certain cases of crime or fraud.
On Friday, Howell ruled in favor of piercing said privileges, forcing Corcoran to appear before a federal grand jury.
In her filing, Howell wrote that what Smith’s office had found was enough to render the attorney-client privilege previously invoked by two of Trump’s attorneys void but did not constitute grounds to seek charges against Trump.
A Trump campaign statement blasted the situation, claiming “prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever… These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump.”
Trump Campaign Statement on Fake ABC News Story pic.twitter.com/bHVLFOqvEB
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) March 21, 2023
Politico’s Kyle Cheney reported, however, that the order made it “clear” that the documents are at the center of the case “and the extraordinary light-speed with which the appeals court is moving suggests there will be action on this at the federal courthouse *tomorrow.*”
According to MSNBC commentator Tristan Snell, the move is “completely unheard of.” He wrote on Twitter: “Normally that process would take MONTHS. Instead they’re making the lawyers submit everything in HOURS.”
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