Two Trump lawyers could be witnesses or targets in an FBI investigation | donald trump

two lawyers for donald trump could become witnesses or targets in the obstruction probe related to the criminal investigation into the former president’s unauthorized retention of highly sensitive government documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to sources. legal experts.

The lawyers – Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran – risk being caught up in the investigation because they liaised with the Justice Department during months of government efforts to recover boxes of presidential records and classified documents at Trump’s home in Florida.

This is an interaction that took place on June 3 in which, according to a file submitted by the Ministry of Justice In a separate but related case on Tuesday, the two attorneys argued that they had complied with a grand jury subpoena that later turned out to be false.

That day, Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt and three FBI agents traveled to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve documents that had been subpoenaed, according to the filing, and Bobb and Corcoran delivered a registered Redweld envelope containing classified documents.

But before Bratt left, Bobb produced and signed a letter certifying that all documents responding to the subpoena had been turned over, while Corcoran said the documents the government had sought were confined to a single storage room, according to the folder.

The problem for Trump’s two lawyers is that the Justice Department then developed evidence through multiple sources that additional presidential and classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago – which turned out to be the case when the FBI searched the property two months later.

According the search warrant and court records, the Justice Department is investigating, among other crimes, whether there was a potential obstruction of justice in relation to how Trump and his attorneys apparently resisted the return of government documents. .

A detailed list of property seized in execution of an FBI search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, signed upon receipt by Christina Bobb.
A detailed list of property seized in execution of an FBI search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, signed upon receipt by Christina Bobb. Photography: Jim Bourg/Reuters

The Justice Department’s account of the June 3 episode – what it described as a “likely” effort to conceal presidential and classified documents wanted by the government – raises the possibility that Bobb and Corcoran could become witnesses in the obstruction investigation.

But the case, and how the Justice Department might approach it, remains complex.

The question for federal prosecutors is whether Trump’s two lawyers deliberately misled the Justice Department so Trump could keep the documents, or whether the lawyers made the representations because they themselves were misled by Trump.

To establish the exact circumstances surrounding Bobb’s reliance on signing the certification and Corcoran’s reliance on his statements, legal experts said, the Justice Department would likely have to call the two attorneys to appear for communications and testimony. .

Such a move would immediately run into an attorney-client confidentiality issue, because the type of information the Justice Department would be trying to extract for a potential obstruction case targeting Trump would be protected communications between Trump and his attorneys.

The privilege exists to protect the rights of defendants who may have committed an offence, as they must be able to speak candidly with their lawyers about what happened without fear that prosecutors could use their discussions against them at trial.

The protection can be removed through the so-called criminal fraud exception. But even if there were a criminal fraud exception in Trump’s case, his attorneys could still invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if they had knowingly misled the government on his behalf.

Ultimately, the question for the Justice Department is whether Attorney General Merrick Garland agrees to file an extraordinary obstructionist prosecution against the former president, and whether Garland does so against his attorneys.

If Garland chooses to take that step, federal prosecutors would likely look for ways to compel Bobb and Corcoran’s testimony to reveal whether Trump obstructed the return of presidential files and classified documents, the legal experts suggested.

If Garland decides not to pursue an obstruction charge, then while Justice Department investigators might ask for Bobb and Corcoran’s testimony anyway, they’re unlikely to get any meaningful information unless it does. also pleads questions of privilege in court.

People close to the former president’s top lawyers generally did not seem to believe Bobb or Corcoran would be forced to testify against Trump and step down from the legal team. And on Wednesday, neither had withheld their own advice, one of the people said.

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