Former President Donald Trump responded to new allegations that he deliberately misled his own attorneys as they dealt with investigations into his handling and retention of classified documents after leaving the White House.
ABC News reported on Friday, based on unnamed sources, that outgoing D.C. Federal Judge Beryl Howell had ruled in a sealed filing that Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors could bypass attorney-client privilege to seek testimony from Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran. ABC News subsequently reported, again based on unnamed sources, that Smith’s team had successfully persuaded Howell that Trump had deliberately misled his own attorneys about his retention of classified materials after leaving office.
Howell, who was appointed to the D.C. federal court by President Barack Obama, reportedly ruled that Smith’s team could request the Trump attorney’s testimony because Trump’s alleged lies or misrepresentations to his attorneys and their subsequent representations to federal prosecutors were made in furtherance of a crime, thus meeting the threshold for the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege.
Federal investigators had been communicating with Trump’s legal team for months prior to an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home. In June of 2022, in response to a grand jury subpoena, Trump’s lawyers handed 38 pages of documents over to federal investigators. Another attorney for Trump, Christina Bobb, certified (pdf) in a June legal statement that a “diligent search” found “any and all documents” related to the investigation and the Trump team retained no additional copies of the documents it turned over. FBI agents reportedly found over 100 additional documents after conducting their own search at Mar-a-Lago two months later. Anonymous sources told ABC News that Smith’s team wants to know what role Corcoran may have played in drafting Bobb’s June statement to investigators.
Trump’s 2024 campaign team criticized ABC News in a Tuesday press statement.
“Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team. This disinformation is on par with their breathless Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine and ‘no-collusion’ Mueller speculation, all of which were totally disproven,” the Trump campaign statement read. “These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump. The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order to manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle.”
“The real story here, that Fake News ABC SHOULD be reporting on, is that prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever,” the Trump campaign statement added.
NTD News reached out to Corcoran and ABC for comment but did not receive responses before this article was published.
Trump’s legal team may still appeal Howell’s ruling in a bid to block Smith’s Special Counsel team from pursuing testimony from Corcoran.
Trump Fighting Array of Legal Challenges
The report on the Trump classified documents episode came on the same week that reports claimed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could bring charges against him over a 2016 campaign finance issue.
Bragg’s case against Trump may stem from a $130,000 payment Trump and his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, facilitated to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels in 2016. Bragg’s office may argue the payment should have been classified as a campaign expense but was wrongly classified as a business expense by the Trump Organization—in violation of Section 175 of New York law—which classifies the falsification of business records as a Class E felony. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had already declined to prosecute the 2016 payment to Daniels as an election law violation.
Trump has repeatedly disputed the premise of Bragg’s alleged case in Manhattan.
Trump is also facing a criminal investigation in Georgia over his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results. ABC News reported unnamed sources close to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she is seeking to question Bobb in connection with the election case. Trump’s legal team filed a motion in a Georgia court on Monday, seeking to quash a grand jury report in the case over the jury forewoman’s recent media tour promoting the prosecution, which the Trump team said compromised the case legally. Trump’s legal filing also sought Willis’ recusal from the case over claims she used has used the prosecution to promote her personal political interests.