July 15, 2024
Trump lawyer ordered to testify in classified documents case in landmark ruling, sources say

Evan Corcoran has been ordered to testify, piercing attorney-client privilege.

A federal judge has ruled that a lawyer for former President Donald Trump must provide additional testimony before a federal grand jury investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors asked Judge Beryl Howell last month to pierce attorney-client privilege and compel Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to appear before a grand jury, sources previously told ABC News.

The Justice Department made the request on the basis of the crime-fraud exception, sources said, which allows for claims of attorney-client privilege to be pierced in cases where it is suspected that a lawyer’s legal services were rendered in the commission of a crime .

Howell said in Friday’s order that the DOJ has met the threshold of the crime-fraud exception, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Trump lawyer ordered to testify in classified documents case in landmark ruling, sources say

In this Sept. 1, 2022, file photo, Evan Corcoran, part of former President Donald Trump’s legal team, leaves the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building & Courthouse after a hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Marco Bello/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

A spokesperson for Trump slammed the decision.

“Whenever prosecutors target the attorneys, that’s usually a good indication that their underlying case is very weak. If they had a real case, they wouldn’t need to play corrupt games with the Constitution,” the spokesperson said. “Every American has the right to consult with counsel and have candid discussions — this promotes adherence to the law. We will fight the Department of Justice on this front and all others that jeopardize America’s fundamental rights and values.”

Trump’s attorneys and Justice Department investigators appeared for oral arguments on this matter before Judge Howell last week, sources said. The proceedings were under seal and not open to the public.

Howell’s decision effectively affirmed that there’s enough evidence that Corcoran’s legal services on behalf of Trump were potentially used in the commission of a crime to overrule Corcoran’s assertions of attorney-client privilege — a development that could bolster any future effort by the special counsel to seek criminal charges as part of his investigation, sources said.

Trump’s attorneys are expected to ask the DC Circuit Court to stay the ruling, pending appeal, sources said.