Judge orders more testimony from Trump lawyers in Mar-a-Lago probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors investigating the potential mishandling of classified documents at the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump will once again be able to question a Trump lawyer before a grand jury, a judge has ruled in a sealed order. .

The order will require Mr. Evan Corcoran to answer additional questions as prosecutors continue their investigation into classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago as well as potential efforts to obstruct that investigation. The order was described on Friday by a person familiar with her, who was not authorized to discuss sealed proceedings and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The precise scope of the order, which should be appealed, was not immediately clear. Neither Corcoran nor his lawyer returned messages seeking comment, and a spokesperson for Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation, also did not respond to an email about the order. .

A Trump spokesperson said the Trump team would “fight the Justice Department on this front and all others that undermine American rights and core values.”

Corcoran previously appeared before the federal grand jury in Washington weeks ago investigating the Mar-a-Lago case, but he invoked attorney-client privilege by refusing to answer certain questions. This privilege protects lawyers from having to share with prosecutors the details of conversations they have with their clients.

Prosecutors can circumvent this privilege if they can convince a judge that the services of an attorney were used in the prosecution of a crime – a principle known as the criminal fraud exception. The Justice Department invoked this exception in this case, arguing to Beryl Howell, the outgoing chief justice of federal court in Washington, DC, that more testimony was needed.

Howell issued his order granting at least some additional testimony before the end of his term as chief justice on Friday. She is replaced as chief justice by James “Jeb” Boasberg, a fellow Obama appointee who has served on the federal bench since 2011.

Corcoran is considered relevant to the investigation in part because last year he penned a statement to the Justice Department saying a ‘diligent search’ of classified documents was conducted at Mar-a-Lago in response. to a subpoena. Months later, however, FBI agents searched the house with a warrant and found approximately 100 additional documents with classified marks.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Trump or anyone in his orbit obstructed his effort to retrieve all classified documents, which included top secret material, from his home.

As chief justice, Boasberg will oversee federal grand juries, including those dealing with Trump cases, in the courthouse and preside over sealed disputes like Corcoran’s.

Separately, former Vice President Mike Pence said he would challenge a grand jury subpoena seeking to compel him to testify in the special counsel’s Jan. 6 investigation. Pence argued that because he was serving as Senate President on Jan. 6, when he was presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify the election results, he is protected from being compelled to respond to his actions under the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause” which protects members of Congress.

It is unclear how this disagreement will be resolved.


Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP


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