A Washington D.C Appeals Court has denied former president Donald Trump’s attempt to block special counsel Jack Smith from seeing important documents from the former president’s attorney on the handling of secret national security documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida last year.
The decision basically enables the Justice Department to get over Trump’s attorney-client privilege after a judge on a lower court determined that the records are probably incriminating evidence. The “crime-fraud” exception to the standard attorney-client privilege is activated as a result of that conclusion, according to U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell’s decision on Friday.
On Friday, Howell issued a secret order requiring Evan Corcoran, Trump’s lawyer, to testify in court over things that they both claimed were protected by the attorney-client privilege. The “crime-fraud exception,” which allows investigators to seek evidence that would often be privileged but contains evidence of likely criminal action, was the basis for her order.
The process of Trump’s attempt to overturn Howell’s decision moved rapidly, with filing deadlines in the late hours of the night. And on Wednesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel rejected Trump’s plea for a stay of Howell’s decision and ordered attorney Evan Corcoran to turn over documents to a grand jury assigned on the special counsel’s investigation. Corcoran is now scheduled to testify Friday before the grand jury, Trump’s side is unlikely to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The legal wrangling in Washington comes as the attorneys for the former president wait for a possible indictment of their client in a separate case in New York, a probe by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg into the specifics of a hush money payment made in 2016 to the porn actress Stormy Daniels.