Feds Score a Win in Mar-a-Lago Documents Case

Trump lawyer ordered to hand over documents connected to investigation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2023 7:50 AM CDT
Trump Lawyer Must Turn Over Mar-a-Lago Case Documents
Attorney M. Evan Corcoran arrives at federal court in Washington, July 22, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

A federal appeals court in a sealed order Wednesday directed a lawyer for Donald Trump to turn over to prosecutors documents in the investigation into the former president's retention of classified records at his Florida estate. The ruling is a significant win for the Justice Department, which has focused for months not only on the hoarding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago but also on why Trump and his representatives resisted demands to return them to the government. It suggests the court has sided with prosecutors who have argued behind closed doors that Trump was using his legal representation to further a crime, the AP reports.

The order was reflected in a brief online notice by a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is sealed, and none of the parties in the dispute is mentioned by name. But the details appear to correspond with a secret fight before a lower court judge over whether Trump lawyer M. Evan Corcoran could be forced to provide documents or give grand jury testimony in the Justice Department special counsel probe into whether Trump mishandled top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago. Last week, Beryl Howell, the outgoing chief judge of the US District Court, directed Corcoran to answer additional questions before the grand jury.

Corcoran is regarded as relevant to the investigation in part because last year he drafted a statement to the Justice Department asserting that a "diligent search" for classified documents had been conducted at Mar-a-Lago in response to a subpoena. That claim proved untrue as FBI agents weeks later searched the home with a warrant and found roughly 100 additional documents with classified markings.

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A Justice Department investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith and his team of prosecutors is examining whether Trump or anyone in his orbit obstructed its efforts to recover all the classified documents, which included top-secret material, from his home. No charges have yet been filed. The inquiry is one of multiple legal threats Trump faces, including probes in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to undo the 2020 election result and a grand jury investigation in New York over hush money payments. The New York case appears to be nearing completion and building toward an indictment, but a grand jury meeting was abruptly called off on Wednesday. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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