A federal judge has at least partially granted a request from U.S. prosecutors request to force an attorney for Donald Trump to testify before a grand jury about the former president’s possession of classified documents after leaving office, according to two people briefed on the decision.
Evan Corcoran had refused to answer investigators’ questions about his interactions with Trump, invoking attorney-client privilege — a principle of U.S. legal practice that says lawyers must keep confidential what they are told by their clients.
U.S. prosecutors argued that there are exceptions to the privilege, including when there is evidence that a client used the attorney’s legal services in furtherance of a crime. In secret court filings and a hearing held behind closed doors last week, prosecutors sought to show Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington that there were grounds for a “crime-fraud exception.”
Howell agreed, said the two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision is under seal.
The people did not provide details of Howell’s decision, and the scope of what questions Corcoran must answer was not clear. Trump’s team will not see the decision until next week, they said, after the Justice Department has a chance to propose redacting portions of the ruling that deal with investigative details that prosecutors want to keep secret.
Trump’s team is expected to ask incoming Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg, who succeeds the term-limited Howell as of midnight Saturday, to stay her order while they appeal, the people familiar with the matter said.
Howell’s decision is nevertheless a victory for prosecutors, as they investigate whether Trump or anyone around him committed a crime and should face charges after an FBI search of the former president’s home in August turned up more than 100 documents with classified markings.
This is a developing story. It will be updated.