Court orders Trump’s attorney to turn over records in Mar-a-Lago documents case

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that an attorney for Donald Trump must give prosecutors evidence in the investigation of classified records that were kept at the former president’s Florida estate.

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The panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that M. Evan Corcoran must provide notes, transcripts and other evidence to prosecutors, The Washington Post reported. Prosecutors are investigating how the classified documents remained at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach months after a subpoena was issued to return the files, according to the newspaper.

In a brief order, the judges directed the parties “to comply with the district court’s March 17, 2023, order to produce documents.” The order also ended an emergency hold on a ruling last week by a lower-court judge.

A lawyer for Corcoran did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment from The Associated Press on Wednesday. An attorney for Trump declined to comment on the sealed order.

The litigation, which has been argued behind closed doors or under seal, brings into focus the issue of attorney-client privilege, which generally protects lawyers from divulging private communications with their clients to the government, The New York Times reported. It also highlights crime-fraud exception, a special provision of the law, according to the newspaper.

The exception allows prosecutors to break through attorney-client privilege when they have reason to believe that legal advice or legal services have been used in furthering a crime, the Times reported.

Corcoran is considered a key element in the probe because of a statement he drafted last year to the Justice Department asserting that a “diligent search” for documents had been conducted at Mar-a-Lago, according to the AP.

The attorney’s claim proved to be untrue weeks later after FBI agents used a search warrant to go through Trump’s residence and found approximately 100 more documents marked as classified, the news organization reported.

On the panel were Florence Pan, a former D.C. Superior Court judge, and J. Michelle Childs, a former South Carolina judge, according to the Post. Both were nominated by President Joe Biden to the federal bench. The third judge, Cornelia T.L. Pillard, was nominated by President Barack Obama, the newspaper reported.

The appeal will continue and briefs are due in May, according to the Post. However, Wednesday’s order allows prosecutors to review the evidence in the case.

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