Sealed hearing in DOJ's attempt to force Trump attorney to testify ends without a ruling
Attorneys for former President Donald Trump and special counsel Jack Smith argued in Washington on Thursday over whether a Trump defense attorney must answer more questions from a grand jury.
The hearing, before Chief Judge Beryl Howell, ended after roughly three hours without a ruling, according to a person familiar with the proceeding.
The Justice Department is trying to force Trump’s defense attorney Evan Corcoran to further testify on his interactions with the former president in a grand jury investigation into the handling of classified documents because his discussions with Trump may have been an attempt to plan a crime.
The sides will be able to file additional responses in writing to Howell before she can rule, the source said.
Trump attorneys John Rowley, Jim Trusty and Corcoran were all at the courthouse, as was Jay Bratt, a top Justice Department official now with the special counsel’s office.
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment, as did attorneys for Trump.
Prosecutors have asked the court to force Corcoran to answer questions he declined to respond to in a recent grand jury appearance as a witness. Corcoran declined to answer some questions that would have divulged his advice to Trump and their conversations, citing attorney-client privilege, CNN has reported.
To overcome Corcoran’s resistance, the prosecutors have argued to the federal court that Trump may have used his attorney in furtherance of a crime or fraud, a weighty accusation in the ongoing investigation.
Their pursuit comes as part of the special counsel investigation into the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after the Trump presidency, and possible obstruction of justice.
Corcoran first testified to the grand jury in January and was asked about what happened in the lead-up to the August search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Corcoran had drafted a statement in June that attested Trump’s team had done a “diligent search” and there were no more classified documents at Trump’s Florida residence.
After that, the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago and found hundreds of government records, including classified material, raising questions about the lawyer’s attestation.
This story has been updated with additional details.