In Trump probe, US seeks to pierce attorney-client privilege
WASHINGTON — Justice Department prosecutors investigating the mishandling of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Florida estate are seeking to pierce the attorney-client privilege and want to again question one of the former president’s lawyers before a grand jury, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday night.
The privilege protects lawyers from having to tell prosecutors about confidential conversations their clients have with them. But prosecutors can get around that privilege if they can convince a judge that the communications they want information about were made in furtherance of a crime — a principle known as the crime-fraud exception.
Prosecutors have already questioned M. Evan Corcoran before a grand jury, but he repeatedly invoked attorney-client privilege in declining to answer certain questions, according to the person who spoke with The Associated Press and insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They’re seeking to question him again, and want to be able to move past attorney-client privilege, the person said.
The request from prosecutors working with special counsel Jack Smith is expected to lead to closeddoor arguments before the chief judge of the District of Columbia federal court about whether prosecutors can compel Corcoran to answer their questions about his conversations with Trump.
It is not the first time during the course of the investigation prosecutors have raised the specter of criminal conduct in connection with the Mar-a-Lago investigation. Last August the Justice Department revealed in a search warrant affidavit that it had probable cause to investigate the unlawful retention of national defense information as well as efforts to obstruct that probe.