The Special Counsel investigation’s prosecutors have presented evidence that former President Donald Trump has “knowingly and deliberately misled his own attorneys about his retention of classified materials after leaving office,” according to a former top federal judge who leaked the contents of a sealed filing to ABC News on Tuesday.
“U.S. Judge Beryl Howell, who on Friday stepped down as the D.C. district court’s chief judge, wrote last week that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office had made a ‘prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations,’” ABC News reported, “and that attorney-client privileges invoked by two of his lawyers could therefore be pierced.”
Donald Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the classified documents case.
“In her sealed filing, Howell ordered that Evan Corcoran, an attorney for Trump, should comply with a grand jury subpoena for testimony on six separate lines of inquiry over which he had previously asserted attorney-client privilege,” the report continued.
“Sources added that Howell also ordered Corcoran to hand over a number of records tied to what Howell described as Trump’s alleged ‘criminal scheme,’ echoing prosecutors,” the report noted. “Those records include handwritten notes, invoices, and transcriptions of personal audio recordings.”
As the ABC report noted, “reaching the so-called prima facie standard to pierce Corcoran’s privilege, Howell agreed prosecutors made a sufficient showing that on its face would appear to show Trump committed crimes. The judge made it clear that prosecutors would still need to meet a higher standard of evidence in order to seek charges against Trump, and more still to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“It is a lower hurdle, but it is an indication that the government had presented some evidence and allegation that they had evidence that met the elements of a crime,” former Justice Dept. attorney Brandon Van Grack told ABC News.
The news comes as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is poised to arrange a grand jury indictment and arrest of former President Donald Trump. The Secret Service is preparing for Donald Trump to be turned over to authorities. New York City has mobilized hundreds of police officers equipped in riot gear, but thus far protests on Donald Trump’s behalf have remained civil and peaceful.
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.