Trump lawyer must give evidence in classified documents case, appeals court rules

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Trump Classified Documents (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Trump Classified Documents (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A three-judge panel of the District Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has denied former President Trump’s request to block one of his attorneys from turning over documents to a grand jury looking into whether he broke the law by retaining classified documents at his Florida residence and whether he obstructed the investigation into his alleged retention of the documents.

Circuit Judges Nina Pillard, J Michelle Childs and Florence Pan issued a brief order lifting an administrative stay of a lower court order compelling attorney Evan Corcoran to turn over documents – including recordings of Mr Trump – to a grand jury working under the supervision of Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith.

The panel ordered Mr Corcoran to comply with the 17 March order from District Judge Beryl Howell, who until last week was chief judge of the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Judge Howell reportedly found that Mr Smith, who had asked for an order compelling Mr Corcoran’s testimony, had met the burden to show Mr Trump had used the attorney’s legal advice in the commission of a crime.

Known as the “crime-fraud exception” to attorney-client privilege, the exception allows Mr Smith to compel Mr Corcoran to testify and produce documents that would ordinarily be shielded by the privilege, which generally guards communications between an attorney and a client.

The ruling means Mr Corcoran will have to provide the grand jury evidence that could be used to indict Mr Trump on charges that he obstructed a DOJ investigation into whether he unlawfully retained classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago beach club for more than a year after his term as president ended in January 2021.