Trump lawyer ordered to testify before grand jury investigating former president
In a landmark ruling Friday, a federal judge ordered Donald Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran to testify further as part of an investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Corcoran could be one of the most important witnesses in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s criminal investigation into possible mishandling of classified records after the Trump presidency and obstruction of justice.
District Judge Beryl Howell said in a sealed order that Justice Department prosecutors had reached the exclusion threshold for Corcoran for fraud, the source said.
However, the scope of what the Justice Department would be allowed to request was not immediately clear. Trump’s team is expected to appeal and ask for a stay of the judge’s decision while the trial is in progress.
The decision spells another sealed defeat for Trump in court as his team and allies tried to prevent Smith’s investigators from learning about the former president’s direct conversations with some of his closest advisers.
The event is especially notable because of the charges that prosecutors could have brought against Trump when they argued with the judge about the grand jury testimony.
Trump’s spokesman said the decision was “a violation of due process.”
“Whenever prosecutors attack lawyers, it is usually a good sign that their main case is very weak. If they had a real case, they wouldn’t need to play corrupt games with the Constitution. Every American has the right to consult with an attorney and have frank conversations to help uphold the law,” the spokesman said.
Corcoran, the lawyer-turned-witness, had previously testified before a grand jury but declined to answer some of the questions, citing lawyer-client confidentiality. The department told the judge that it should not shy away from answering the question, as its discussions with the former president could have been part of an attempt to plot the crime.
Howell’s solution one of her last in closed grand jury disputes as chief judge. The Obama nominee has repeatedly given the green light to Justice Department requests for information on Trump’s actions during her tenure as head of the D.C. District Court, but she is stepping down Friday from her administrative position.
When Corcoran first testified before a grand jury in January, he was asked about what happened ahead of the August raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
In June, Corcoran issued a statement alleging that the Trump team had conducted a “thorough search” and there were no more classified documents at Trump’s Florida residence.
After that, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago and found hundreds of government documents, including classified materials, raising questions about the lawyer’s certification.
This story has been updated with additional details.