A federal judge quietly decided on Friday that Donald Trump‘s counsel must testify before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., probing the former president’s retention of papers with classified markings, according to two individuals familiar with the process.
Evan Corcoran, the attorney, had turned down inquiries from investigators about his talks with Trump due to concerns about attorney-client privilege. Investigators in special counsel Jack Smith’s office wanted to question Corcoran about an alleged call he made with Trump on June 24, 2022, around the time investigators were looking for papers at Trump’s home and video security video of Mar-a-Lago, a source told CBS News last week.
Smith’s team requested Chief Judge Beryl Howell to reject Corcoran’s claims of privilege and force him to testify against his client, Trump, on the grounds that the attorney-client contacts at issue might have aided criminal behavior. According to the sources, Howell’s secret ruling only partially granted that request and ruled that the so-called “crime-fraud exception” be applied to Corcoran’s testimony on a specified set of issues.
Howell’s ruling indicates that she agreed to the Justice Department’s request that the so-called “crime-fraud exception” be applied to Corcoran’s testimony and will force him to appear. CNN was the first to report that Corcoran would be forced to testify.
Trump is likely to appeal the decision with a federal appeals court and urge the lower court to stay the order until the problem is resolved. It is unknown when Corcoran will be called to testify. Corcoran, who previously testified before a D.C. grand jury in the inquiry, has come under fire for his role in Trump’s response to federal investigators seeking records with classified markings allegedly taken from the White House to the former president’s Florida residence after he left office.
Prosecutors claimed in court documents that when they met with attorneys and representatives of the former president in June 2022, they were given “a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape, containing the documents,” and were handed a signed declaration from a Trump representative declaring that all known sensitive documents had been turned over.
A search warrant executed in August found that other papers with secret markings were still present in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. Prosecutors have stated that they think there was an effort to “obstruct” their investigation into how those sensitive data were allowed to depart White House grounds without approval from the National Archives. The alleged interference is also part of Smith’s investigation.