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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Two Trump lawyers highlighted in FBI probe

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Washington: Two lawyers for Donald Trump “could become witnesses or targets” in the criminal probe of the former US president’s unauthorized retention of highly-sensitive government documents at his Florida resort, according to legal experts.

The lawyers – Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran – face becoming ensnared in the investigation because they liaised with the justice department during the government’s months-long effort to retrieve boxes of presidential records and classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, the Guardian said.

An interaction that took place on June 3 is in focus.

According to a court filing submitted by the justice department in a separate but related case on Tuesday, the two lawyers made representations that they had complied with a grand jury subpoena that subsequently proved to be false.

That day, the justice department’s chief of counterintelligence, Jay Bratt, and three FBI agents travelled to Mar-a-Lago to collect the documents that had been subpoenaed, the filing said, and Bobb and Corcoran turned over a taped, Redweld envelope of classified materials.

But before Bratt departed, Bobb produced and signed a letter certifying that all and any documents responsive to the subpoena were being turned over, while Corcoran indicated that the records the government had sought were confined to one storage room, the filing said.

The trouble for the two Trump lawyers is that the Department of Justice then developed evidence through multiple sources that additional presidential and classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago – which proved to be the case when the FBI searched the property on August 8 again.

In its own filing late Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers decried the search as having taken place in “the midst of the standard give-and-take” between a former president and the National Archives and Records Administration over presidential records.

It said the department had “gratuitously” made public certain information, including a photograph of classified documents taken from the home.

According to the search warrant and court filings, the justice department is investigating among other crimes whether there was potential obstruction of justice with respect to how Trump and his lawyers have seemingly been resistant to return documents belonging to the government.

The Guardian report said the question for federal prosecutors becomes whether the two Trump lawyers willfully misled the justice department so that Trump could keep the documents, or whether the lawyers made the representations because they themselves were misled by Trump.

As per legal experts, the Guardian reported, the justice department would probably have to move to subpoena both of the lawyers for communications and testimony.

In case US Attorney General Merrick Garland gives his approval to move ahead with an extraordinary prosecution for obstruction against the former president, federal prosecutors would probably move to find ways to compel Bobb and Corcoran’s testimony to reveal whether Trump obstructed the return of presidential records and classified materials, the legal experts told the Guardian.

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