Justice Department – There’s “evidence of a crime” in Donald Trump probe: The Department of Justice said in a court filing this week that there is evidence former president “used his attorney in furtherance of a crime or fraud.”
Is Donald Trump In Trouble?
And while a grand jury report from the Georgia election interference case is set for partial release this week, there’s been a major development in the special counsel’s investigation.
In a filing this week, the Justice Department this week cited the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege in seeking grand jury testimony from an attorney, Evan Corcoran, who has represented the former president, the New York Times reported.
The case, per the Times, pertains to the classified documents part of the investigation.
“The prosecutors have sought approval from a federal judge to invoke what is known as the crime-fraud exception, which allows them to work around attorney-client privilege when they have reason to believe that legal advice or legal services have been used in furthering a crime,” The Times said of the development.
Corcoran was already brought before a grand jury, per the newspaper, and is thought to have asserted attorney-client privilege on the stand.
After that appearance, Corcoran was informed that the Justice Department sought to invoke the crime-fraud exception.
The Times described the move as “another sign of the aggressive efforts being made by Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing the investigations into Mr. Trump, to secure testimony.”
The newspaper quoted a Donald Trump spokesman as describing the move as “a politically motivated witch hunt intended to block Mr. Trump from being re-elected to the White House, and predicted that it would fail.”
What We Know
CNN also published an analysis of the new development.
“It was unclear on Tuesday whether the Justice Department has developed new evidence to argue there was criminal planning, or whether prosecutors are resting on the same arguments made when prosecutors sought a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago last year,’ CNN said. “At that time, they had cause to believe federal records were moved or concealed within the beach club, and they have been investigating both mishandling of national security records and obstruction of justice.”
Per both reports, Corcoran drafted a statement last summer stating that a “diligent search” had been performed of Mar-a-Lago to assure that there were no classified documents there, but the subsequent search of the Trump estate found hundreds more.
Also this week, an appeals court upheld a $110,000 contempt fine, in connection with the case in which the New York attorney general’s office sued Trump. The former president had been fined for refusing to turn over documents to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“Once again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump is not above the law,” James said in a statement, per CNBC. “For years, he tried to stall and thwart our lawful investigation into his financial dealings, but today’s decision sends a clear message that there are consequences for abusing the legal system,” James continued. “We will not be bullied or dissuaded from pursuing justice.”
The $250 million James lawsuit seeks to ban Donald Trump and his three oldest children from serving as an officer of any public company in New York.
And in the Georgia case, Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court stated that the special grand jury report will be partially released later this week, on Thursday. The report, the judge said in his ruling, includes “a roster of who should (or should not) be indicted, and for what, in relation to the conduct (and aftermath) of the 2020 general election in Georgia.”
Whether actual charges are brought against Donald Trump or anyone else will be ultimately made by District Attorney Fani T. Willis, who must decide whether to bring such charges to a grand jury. Willis had sought to prevent the release of the report.
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Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.