Trump attorney testifies before federal grand jury in documents probe
▶ Watch Video: Trump lawyer to testify before grand jury in classified documents probe
Washington – An attorney for former President Donald Trump testified for over three hours before a federal grand jury convened by special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the potential mishandling of documents with classified markings, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Evan Corcoran was spotted in the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on Friday, ahead of his expected testimony, and made his way to the area of the building where grand juries hear testimony. These proceedings are sealed from public view under federal law.
Prosecutors are interested in knowing more about Trump’s communications with Corcoran — who appeared before a grand jury once before and claimed attorney-client privilege — and planned to question him about notes and voice memos he was compelled to turn over, one of the sources said.
A federal judge ruled Corcoran’s claims of attorney-client privilege over certain topics were invalid and compelled the lawyer to answer questions about aspects of his work with Trump and turn over evidence to investigators based on the “crime-fraud exception.”
On Wednesday, an appeals court rejected the Trump team’s request that Corcoran’s testimony be put on hold to allow for further litigation. The appeal is still ongoing, however, and a briefing schedule stretches into the spring, but in the meantime, the court ruled Trump’s attorney would have to comply with a federal subpoena and sit before the grand jury on Friday.
The special counsel likely sees Corcoran not as a potential subject of the criminal probe, but as a possible witness in the events leading up to and following the execution of an FBI search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August that resulted in the seizure of more than 100 documents marked classified.
According to two sources, prosecutors think the attorney might offer a behind-the-scenes look at what Trump said during the investigation and whether the former president may have misled his lawyers.
Specifically, prosecutors want to learn more about an alleged June 24, 2022, call between Trump and Corcoran, which was around the same time investigators were trying to secure documents at Trump’s Florida home and video surveillance tapes of Mar-a-Lago, according to one source familiar with the matter.
Trump has consistently maintained his innocence in the classified documents probe and other federal investigations. A spokesperson for the former president did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Smith took over the case after months of back-and-forth between the Justice Department and the former president over Trump’s alleged retention of sensitive records after he left office. Prosecutors have said they are also investigating the possible obstruction of their investigation.
Corcoran’s appearance in a Washington, D.C., federal court comes one day after another attorney for the former president, Tim Parlatore, confirmed he testified before a grand jury in December as part of the special counsel’s documents probe. He answered questions about the Trump team’s search for more government records at Trump properties across the county that yielded a handful of additional documents.
“I voluntarily and happily chose to go into the grand jury so that I could present my client’s case to them in the context of our search efforts,” Parlatore said in a statement, “During my testimony, it was clear that the government was not acting appropriately and made several improper attempts to pierce privilege and, in my opinion, made several significant misstatements to the jury which I believe constitutes prosecutorial misconduct.”
ABC News first reported the news of Parlatore’s testimony. He was not subpoenaed to testify, but did so voluntarily.
Parlatore told CBS News that prosecutors were interested in knowing more about the independent firm Trump had hired to search for more documents at Trump Tower and other locations. Parlatore alleged the special counsel’s team also tried to get him to discuss his communications with his client, the former president.
“The thing that really struck me was their cavalier attitude towards the attorney-client privilege,” Parlatore said. “Even if I wanted to give that information, I’m prohibited from doing that.”
The special counsel’s office declined to comment.
Distrust and tensions between prosecutors and Trump’s legal team have run high as Smith’s dueling investigations into the former president continue. The special counsel has also been tasked with investigating the events leading up the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. According to sources, last year, a federal judge refused a sealed request from the special counsel that Trump’s attorneys be held in contempt.
On Thursday, attorneys for the former president and an attorney for former Vice President Mike Pence tried to convince D.C. District Chief Judge James Boasberg that Pence should not have to comply with a subpoena to testify in Smith’s Jan. 6 investigation.
Trump has claimed executive privilege over Pence’s testimony — arguing his former vice president should not divulge their private communications — and Pence is asserting that his role as president of the Senate on Jan. 6, 2021, constitutionally shields him from questions about his actions that day.
It is unclear when Boasberg will rule on the Pence matter and the former vice president has said he could take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court.
Keshia Butts contributed to this report.