In Trump probe, US seeks to puncture attorney-client privilege


Justice Department prosecutors investigating the mishandling of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Florida mansion are seeking to violate attorney-client privilege and want to re-examine one of Trump’s attorneys. the former president before the grand jury, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday night.

The privilege protects lawyers from having to tell prosecutors about confidential conversations with their clients. But prosecutors can avoid that privilege if they can convince a judge that the communications they want information about were made to commit a crime — a doctrine known as exception. crime rate.

Prosecutors questioned M. Evan Corcoran before a grand jury, but he repeatedly invoked attorney-client privilege to refuse to answer questions, according to a person who spoke with the Associated Press and insists on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The request from prosecutors to work with special counsel Jack Smith is expected to lead to closed-door arguments before the chief judge of the District of Columbia federal court over whether prosecutors can force Corcoran to respond. their questions about his conversations with Trump.

This is not the first time during the investigation, prosecutors have raised the specter of criminal conduct. Last August, the Justice Department revealed in an affidavit of a search warrant that it had reasonable grounds to investigate the unlawful retention of national defense information as well as attempts to obstruct the investigation. that investigation.

It remains unclear whether Trump or anyone else will be charged, although the move is a notable act of aggression by Smith’s team. A war crimes prosecutor who previously led the Justice Department’s public corruption division, Smith is separately investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the outcome of the election. elected in 2020 and recently subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence as part of that investigation.

A Department of Justice spokesman did not return a call for comment Tuesday night, and Corcoran did not return an email requesting comment.

Trump’s attorneys and representatives have been prominent for months in the investigation into Trump’s keeping of about 300 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. The Justice Department issued a subpoena last May to recover classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, but officials who visited the property were given a file containing only about three dozen records.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Christina Bobb, signed a letter saying that an “intensive search” had been conducted for classified documents and all of those records had been returned to the government. . She told FBI investigators in an interview last fall that she had not drafted the letter and that Corcoran was the one who prepared it and asked her to sign it as custodian. file.

Prosecutors said they later developed evidence that led them to suspect that additional classified records remained at the property. They returned in August with a search warrant, removing about 100 documents marked as classified.

The New York Times first reported that the Justice Department was seeking to infringe on attorney-client privilege.

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