Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers are fighting a secret court battle to prevent a federal jury from gathering information from a growing circle of close Trump aides about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. CNN.
The high-stakes court dispute — which included the appearance of three attorneys representing Trump in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon — is the most aggressive step taken by the former president to assert executive and attorney-client privileges, in order to prevent some witnesses from sharing information at criminal investigation events around January 6, 2021.
The court battle for privileges, which has not been reported before and is under wraps, is a turning point for Trump’s post-presidency legal troubles.
How the fight is resolved could determine whether prosecutors can take down the firewall that Trump tried to keep around his West Wing conversations and with lawyers he spoke to as he tried to overturn the 2020 election and who worked to help him maintain the presidency.
That dispute came to a head when former Trump White House adviser and attorney Eric Herschmann received a grand jury subpoena seeking testimony, the people briefed said.
Other former Trump White House officials, including former White House adviser Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin, have appeared before the grand jury in recent weeks after negotiating specific matters on which they would refuse to answer questions, because of Trump’s privileged claims.
Herschmann himself is not in court fighting the subpoena. Instead, Trump’s lawyers are asking a judge to recognize the former president’s privileged claims and right to confidentiality surrounding his dealings. Herschmann’s deposition was adjourned.
It remains to be seen whether prosecutors want to use the information for possible cases against Trump or others.
Trump’s lawyers had hoped the Justice Department would eventually seek a judge’s order to compel additional testimony from White House witnesses, the report said. CNN previously.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Under grand jury rules, the court dispute is under wraps, with no public documents to show the state of play.
The Justice Department has been striving for a legal challenge in this regard for months, the CNN previously.
In addition to Cipollone and Philbin, former presidential aides Greg Jacob and Marc Short appeared before the grand jury in DC courthouse and declined to answer some questions because of Trump’s claims of executive privilege, the report said. CNN previously.
On Thursday afternoon, Evan Corcoran, Tim Parlatore and John Rowley, who work together representing Trump in the Jan. 6 investigation, walked out of the courtroom accompanied by a law enforcement official.
Parlatore told reporters he was there “representing a client” but would not provide further details. The other lawyers declined to comment.
Pressure from Trump’s legal team to broadly assert the privilege has been the subject of disagreement among his lawyers over legal strategy, people familiar with the matter said.
Herschmann received a jury subpoena for depositions and related documents 6 weeks ago. But he was angered by his trial date for what he saw as vague guidance from Trump’s lawyers not to share information, people familiar with the matter say.
Herschmann has pressed Trump’s lawyers to provide him with more detailed instructions on what topics to assert privilege, according to emails reviewed by the CNN and first reported by The New York Times.
“A letter directive from President Trump without a court order would not be enough. I don’t understand your statement that the chief judge will decide the matter,” Herschmann wrote. He then raised concerns about the DOJ seeking to compel his testimony if he refused to testify to certain questions.
Herschmann previously testified to the House committee about what he saw at the White House around January 6.
The attorney expressed concerns that the Trump team’s approach potentially put him at risk for contempt of the grand jury, according to people familiar with the matter.
He backed off when Trump’s lawyers sent him a letter with instructions that he cite executive privileges or attorney-client to the jury.
Other former Trump advisers have expressed similar frustration with the imprecision of Trump’s claim to privilege, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. CNN.
Claims of attorney-client privilege can be overcome for a number of reasons, including if any information is shared outside of attorney-client conduct and if the communication relates to potential wrongdoing.
In the January 6 situation, a federal judge in California found email exchanges to and from John Eastman, Trump’s election attorney, would not be covered by that confidentiality, providing the records to House investigators and allowing the Department of Justice to access these and other similar exchanges.
Executive privilege is a more difficult pursuit for investigators, though not impossible to overcome. The Justice Department had access to Nixon’s Watergate tapes for a federal jury in the 1970s because of a Supreme Court ruling that the criminal investigation needed the materials.
But the courts have not spelled out exactly where the lines would be drawn in this investigation, or for a former president who might try to keep secret advice he was given while leading the country.
The dispute is separate from the privileged protections that Trump tried to claim in the separate investigation into manipulation of federal records and national security information after his presidency.
That investigation led the FBI to seize confidential documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and a judge who serves as a special master is now working through the more than 10,000 unclassified records to determine whether Trump can block them from investigators. .
Source: CNN Brasil
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