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Former President Donald Trump raged on Tuesday following a report that claimed he “misled” his attorneys regarding the classified documents found in his possession last August during an unprecedented FBI raid.
Sources who said they are familiar with a sealed filing told ABC News that a former top federal judge has stated that prosecutors in the special counsel’s office have put forward persuasive preliminary evidence indicating that Trump intentionally and knowingly deceived his lawyers regarding his possession of classified materials after leaving office.
U.S. Judge Beryl Howell, who recently resigned from her post as the chief judge of the D.C. district court, stated in a filing last week that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office had presented sufficient initial evidence indicating that the former president had committed criminal offenses. As a result, the attorney-client privileges asserted by two of his lawyers could be overridden, the outlet reported.
In her undisclosed filing, Howell mandated that Evan Corcoran, a lawyer representing Trump, comply with a grand jury subpoena to testify on six separate lines of investigation that he had previously protected under attorney-client privilege.
Additionally, sources reported that Howell directed Corcoran to relinquish various records associated with Trump’s supposed “criminal plan,” which corroborates the prosecutors’ assertions. These records include handwritten notes, invoices, and transcripts of personal audio recordings, ABC News reported.
Howell concluded that prosecutors had met the prima facie standard required to override Corcoran’s privilege by demonstrating initial evidence that Trump had committed crimes. However, the judge emphasized that the prosecutors must meet a higher standard of evidence to pursue charges against Trump, and even more evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the report continued.
“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,” Brandon Van Grack, a former top national security official in the Justice Department who is now in private practice, told the outlet.
Sources reportedly told ABC News that Howell determined that prosecutors had presented “sufficient” evidence that Trump “intentionally concealed” the existence of further classified documents from Corcoran, unwittingly placing Corcoran in a position to mislead the government.
“It’s unclear what evidence Howell may have reviewed under seal from both DOJ and Trump’s attorneys to help her arrive at her decision,” ABC News noted.
Trump, meanwhile, blasted the story as “fake” and refuted its key elements.
“Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team. This disinformation is on par with their breathless Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, and ‘no-collusion’ Mueller speculation, all of which were totally disproven,” Trump said in a statement shared on Twitter by spokesperson Liz Harrington.
Trump Campaign Statement on Fake ABC News Story pic.twitter.com/bHVLFOqvEB
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) March 21, 2023
“These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump. The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle,” he said.
“The real story here, that Fake News ABC SHOULD be reporting on, is that prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever. President Trump is the only leader fighting for the Constitution in order to protect the American people from being abused by a crooked system,” he noted further.
The probe into Trump’s purported mishandling of classified documents, headed by special counsel Jack Smith, began last year and is ongoing. Smith was appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Smith is also investigating Trump’s alleged connection to the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has his own classified documents scandal to deal with.
FBI agents searched the offices of the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., in November following the discovery of a documents marked as classified there on November 2nd by Biden’s personal lawyers. Classified documents have also been discovered in the garage of one of his Delaware homes.
The Justice Department has assigned a special counsel to investigate Biden’s case, too.