The special counsel investigating Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents is seeking to compel a lawyer for the former president to testify before a grand jury, a source familiar with the matter said.
Prosecutors allege in a sealed filing that they have evidence that some of Trump’s conversations with the attorney were in furtherance of a crime, the source said.
In a sign of an aggressive new legal strategy, first reported by The New York Times, the source said special counsel Jack Smith has asked a judge to allow prosecutors to invoke what’s known as the crime-fraud exception, which would let them sidestep protections afforded to Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran through attorney-client privilege.
The source did not say what questions the government is trying to force Corcoran to answer.
NBC News has asked Corcoran and a Trump spokesperson for comment.
FBI agents with a warrant searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida in August to recover classified material after they determined that a certification signed by his custodian of record, which claimed all sensitive records had been returned, was inaccurate.
NBC News reported earlier that Trump’s custodian of record at the time, Christina Bobb, told investigators that Corcoran had drafted and told her to sign a letter certifying that all sensitive records in Trump’s possession had been returned to the government.
Trump, who announced a third White House bid in November, has called the search for classified documents a “witch hunt,” claiming it's an effort by Democrats to weaponize the Justice Department against him.
The Justice Department in January said that Robert Hur would examine Obama-era classified material found in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and an office he used in Washington during the Trump administration.
Smith's office has subpoenaed Trump administration officials like former national security adviser Robert O’Brien as he also oversees an investigation into Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
Last week, Smith issued a subpoena to former Vice President Mike Pence. A source close to Pence said Tuesday that he plans to fight the subpoena.