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Report: DOJ Seeks to Override Trump Lawyer's Privilege Claim

In a sign of escalating legal peril for former President Donald Trump, federal prosecutors investigating his handling of classified documents sought approval from a federal judge to bypass attorney-client privilege claims to compel one of Trump's lawyers to answer questions before a grand jury, the New York Times reports. The Times cites two people familiar with the investigation in reporting that the office of Jack Smith, the special counsel in the case, seeks to invoke the crime-fraud exception, which allows a judge to pierce the attorney-client privilege against testifying if there is reason to believe that legal advice or legal services have been used in furthering a crime. The fact that prosecutors invoked the exception in a sealed motion to compel the testimony of the lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, suggests that they believe Trump or his allies might have used Corcoran’s services in that way.

Among the questions that the Justice Department has been examining since last year is whether Trump or his associates obstructed justice in failing to comply with demands to return a trove of government material he took with him from the White House upon leaving office, including hundreds of documents with classified markings. Last May, the Justice Department issued a subpoena for any classified documents still in Trump’s possession, after he had voluntarily turned over an initial batch of material to the National Archives that turned out to include almost 200 classified documents. In June, Corcoran met with investigators and handed over more than 30 documents in response to the subpoena. Another lawyer for Trump, Christina Bobb, then signed a statement asserting that a “diligent search” had been conducted at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s residence and private club in Palm Beach, Fla., and that there were no additional documents bearing classification markings. Bobb has told investigators and others that Corcoran drafted the statement, and that she added some caveats to it, seeking to make it sound less ironclad. But when the F.B.I. searched Mar-a-Lago in August, agents found more than 100 additional classified documents.


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