A federal appeals court panel in D.C. ruled Wednesday that Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran must hand over documents to Justice Department prosecutors investigating classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
The three-judge panel upheld a ruling last week by District Court Judge Beryl Howell that Corcoran must provide notes and transcripts to Special Counsel Jack Smith.
The ruling ended a temporary stay blocking the order and directed the unidentified parties to comply with the sealed order.
Donald Trump’s campaign is pushing back against a report based on a judge’s sealed letter on potential criminal violations in conversations being shielded by Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran. An Appeals Court panel on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s ruling that Corcoran must provide documents and information Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office is seeking
But the details appear to correspond with a closed-door fight before a lower court judge over whether M. Evan Corcoran could be forced to provide documents or give grand jury testimony in the Justice Department special counsel probe into whether Trump mishandled top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago.
Last Friday, Beryl Howell, the outgoing chief judge of the U.S. District Court, directed Corcoran to answer more questions before the grand jury. He had appeared before the Mar-A-Lago federal grand jury weeks earlier but invoked attorney-client privilege to avoid answering certain questions.
Though attorney-client privilege protects lawyers from being forced to share details of their conversations with clients, that legal shield can be removed in a case of ‘crime-fraud.’ Namely, if a lawyer’s services were used by a client to further a crime, there’s no legal protection for the client.
The three judges that issued the decision included Cornelia Pillard, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, and J. Michelle Childs and Florence Pan, both appointees of President Joe Biden.
Corcoran is scheduled to testify before a grand jury on Friday, separate from the Manhattan in NYC, reports CNN.
It was not immediately known if Trump’s team would try to appeal the ruling, which came from a panel of three judges appointed by Democratic presidents.
Former President Donald Trump’s team blasted the developments in federal court, during a week when Trump is facing potential indictment in Manhattan in another case
Jack Smith was in November appointed a special prosecutor by the Justice Department, and tasked with looking into Trump’s handling of classified documents and his actions around January 6
The apparent leak from a sealed ruling and document infuriated Trump’s team on Tuesday evening, especially when Trump is facing potential indictment in Manhattan related to ‘hush’ payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.
‘Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team,’ wrote Trump campaign spokesman Liz Harrington, referencing Judge Howell’s retirement.
‘These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump,’ she wrote. ‘This disinformation is on par with Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine and ‘no-collusion’ Mueller speculation, all of which were totally disproven,’ she continued before expanding the defense to all legal matters Trump is confronting.
‘These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump. The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order to manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle.’
Howell issued her order last week, her final act as chief judge. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals then issued a stay late Tuesday, prompting urgent legal filings by both sides. A ruling could come Wednesday.
All three judges on a three-judge Appeals Court panel who issued the ruling are Democratic appointees, Politico noted. They told Trump’s legal team to specify the documents that form the basis for the battle by midnight Tuesday, with DOJ required to respond by Wednesday at 6 a.m.
U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that Corcoran should testify
More than 100 documents marked ‘classified’ were subsequently identified at Mar-a-Lago during an FBI search following attestations of a diligent search
The ‘crime-fraud exception’ can allow for suspending attorney-client privilege when the testimony or documents being sought contain evidence of a potential crime. During a previous court appearance, Corcoran, who drafted a letter attesting to a diligent search of Mar-a-Lago, reportedly invoked privilege on some matters.
More than 100 documents marked ‘classified’ were subsequently identified at Mar-a-Lago during an FBI search.
Howell on Friday concluded her seven-year tenure as a chief judge with the potentially significant move of handing notes made by Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, to the Justice Department.
The Daily Beast termed the final blow as a ‘parting gift’ to Jack Smith, the special prosecutor appointed by the DOJ to investigate both Trump’s handling of the Mar-a-Lago classified documents scandal, and his actions on January 6.