Report: Trump Misled Attorneys About Classified Documents

March 22, 2023

Prosecutors in the special counsel’s office have presented evidence to the U.S. District Court in DC that former President Trump knowingly and deliberately misled his attorneys about the retention of classified documents after leaving the White House, ABC News reported Tuesday evening.

According to ABC’s sources, U.S. Judge Beryl Howell, who stepped down as the DC District Court’s chief judge on Friday, wrote last week that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office made a “prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations,” and therefore attorney-client priveleges invoked by two of his lawyers don’t hold up. 

On Friday, Howell had ordered that Trump attorney Evan Corcoran provide testimony in the classified documents case, despite his having declined to answer some questions, citing attorney-client privilege.

On Tuesday evening ABC reported that according to sources, Howell further ordered Corcoran to hand over a number of records tied to what Howell—echoing prosecutors—described as Trump’s alleged “criminal scheme,” including handwritten notes, invoices, and transcriptions of personal audio recordings.

Howell found that prosecutors had provided “sufficient” evidence that Trump “intentionally concealed” the existence of additional classified documents from Corcoran, according to ABC sources, putting Corcoran in an unwitting position to deceive the government.

In November when Attorney General Merrick Garland named Smith as special counsel to investigate possible criminal actions in both the classified documents case and Trump’s role surrounding January 6, he specifically mentioned “obstruction of justice” as one of the areas to investigate.

By definition, knowingly and deliberately misleading his own attorneys falls under the umbrella of obstruction, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in his handling of classified documents after he left the White House.

In response to ABC News, a Trump campaign spokesperson said, in part, “Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team.”

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