Federal prosecutors involved in the criminal investigation of Donald Trump’s retention of classified documents argued to a US judge on Thursday that one of the former US president’s lawyers should answer more questions before a grand jury over objections of attorney-client privilege.
US prosecutors have been seeking to invoke the so-called crime-fraud exception that allows them to compel testimony about communications between an attorney and a client when they have evidence to suggest legal advice was used in furtherance of a crime.
In the sealed hearing before the chief US district judge for the District of Columbia Beryl Howell, prosecutors argued that they had reason to believe that legal advice to Trump from his lawyer Evan Corcoran was used by Trump to obstruct the classified-marked documents investigation.
The development is the latest incident in the ongoing saga around Trump’s retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort related to his time as president. The papers were discovered after an FBI search of the property amid accusations that Trump was seeking to obstruct an investigation into how and why the documents ended up there.
Subsequent investigations have also turned up documents at properties linked to Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, and the Democratic president Joe Biden, relating to his time as vice-president to Barack Obama.
The prosecutors in Trump’s case broadly cited to Howell the same evidence it included in the affidavit used to obtain the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, sources familiar with the matter said, which alleged potential retention of national security material and obstruction of justice.
Howell did not rule on Thursday on whether to grant the justice department’s motion to compel testimony from Corcoran, the sources said, after Corcoran previously appeared before the grand jury and declined to answer some questions on the basis of