Albuquerque Journal

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.

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