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Court Rules Against Attorney Privilege in Case of Trump's Classified Documents, Reports

© AP Photo / Jose Luis MaganaAttorney M. Evan Corcoran arrives at federal court in Washington, July 22, 2022.
Attorney M. Evan Corcoran arrives at federal court in Washington, July 22, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.03.2023
A federal judge issued a groundbreaking ruling that could have significant implications for the investigation into Donald Trump's handling of classified materials, by ordering Evan Corcoran, Trump's lawyer, to provide additional testimony, reports US media, citing source familiar with the matter.
The ruling marks a major development in the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Jack Smith into potential misconduct by Trump and his team after the presidency, including allegations of obstruction of justice and mishandling of classified documents. Corcoran is considered to be a key witness in the investigation.
District Judge Beryl Howell, in an order under seal, found that Justice Department prosecutors had met the threshold for the crime-fraud exception for Corcoran.
Corcoran had previously testified before a grand jury, but had declined to answer some questions, citing attorney-client privilege.
Former US President Donald Trump's residence in Mar-A-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida on August 9, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.08.2022
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The judge's ruling allows the prosecutors to force Corcoran to answer certain questions, even if they are protected by attorney-client privilege, because they may be relevant to an attempt to plan a crime.
This latest ruling is another setback for Trump and his legal team, who have been fighting to prevent Smith's investigators from gaining access to crucial information, including direct conversations between Trump and his closest advisers. However Trump’s team is expected to appeal, media reports.
A Trump spokesperson said the ruling is a "violation of due process."
"Whenever prosecutors target the attorneys, that’s usually a good indication their underlying case is very weak. If they had a real case, they wouldn’t need to play corrupt games with the Constitution. Every American has the right to consult with counsel and have candid discussions – this promotes adherence to the law," the spokesperson said.
This ruling is significant because it highlights accusations prosecutors may have made against Trump as they argued for Corcoran's testimony. Corcoran's previous testimony focused on what happened in the lead-up to the August search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, during which the FBI discovered hundreds of government records, including classified material, despite Corcoran's attestation that no more classified documents remained on the premises.
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District Judge Beryl Howell's ruling is one of her final decisions on sealed grand jury disputes as chief judge, as she rotates out of the administrative role on Friday.
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