Early Monday Morning, President Trump’s legal team was spotted entering the Justice Department per the Trump team’s request weeks ago. This comes after what many conservatives, including the former president, called a “witch hunt” after authorities raided the Trump residence, Mar-A-Lago, and found nothing. Sources speculate that the Trump legal team is ready to question the legality of the way the investigation was handled, with two members of the team writing a letter “complaining that their client was being treated “unfairly” and asked to “discuss the ongoing injustice that your Special Counsel and his prosecutors are perpetrating.”
By Robert Costa, Robert Legare & Andres Triay; June 5, 2023
Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump — John Rowley, James Trusty and Lindsey Halligan — met with special counsel Jack Smith and federal prosecutors at the Justice Department at around 10 a.m. Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The meeting took place weeks after Trump’s lawyers had requested a meeting with top federal law enforcement officials. The attorneys for the former president spent just under two hours inside the Main Justice building and declined to comment on their meeting as they left.
CBS News cameras captured Trump’s legal team walking into the Justice Department. The former president’s lawyers did not speak as they entered the building in Washington. A person familiar with the meeting between the three attorneys and the department said that Attorney General Merrick Garland did not attend.
Two people familiar with the probe said that Trump’s legal team is frustrated with how Justice Department officials have handled attorney-client matters in recent months and would likely raise their concerns on this front during Monday’s meeting, in particular, prosecutors’ discussions of related issues in front of the grand jury.
Earlier this year, a federal judge said Trump’s attorney must testify before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., investigating the former president’s retention of documents with classified markings.
The attorney, Evan Corcoran, previously refused to answer questions from investigators about his conversations with Trump, citing attorney-client privilege concerns. Prosecutors in the special counsel’s office wanted to ask Corcoran about an alleged call he had with Trump on June 24, 2022, around the time investigators were seeking to secure documents at Trump’s home and video surveillance tapes of Mar-a-Lago, a source previously told CBS news last week.
The special counsel’s team asked D.C. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell to reject Corcoran’s claims of privilege and force him to testify against his client, Trump, on the basis that the attorney-client communications in question could have furthered criminal activity. Howell’s secret order only partially granted that request and ruled that the so-called “crime-fraud exception” be applied to Corcoran’s testimony on a specific set of questions, the sources said.
An appeals court rejected the former president’s request to put a stop to Corcoran’s testimony, upholding Howell’s ruling. Howell was replaced as chief judge on the D.C. federal court by Judge James Boasberg, who ruled earlier this year that former Vice President Mike Pence had to testify before a grand jury in the special counsel’s second investigation into Trump centered around efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.
Special counsel Jack Smith has been investigating the former president after documents with classified markings from his White House tenure were uncovered at Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, in August 2022. Prosecutors are also looking into whether there were efforts to obstruct attempts to recover the records, according to multiple sources close to the investigation.
Several sources with knowledge of the investigation believe that a charging decision in the documents case is imminent, and Trump lawyers in recent days were expected to meet at some point with the Justice Department to talk through where things stand and to potentially lay out their concerns about the prosecutors’ efforts so far.
Grand jury testimony has slowed in recent weeks, sources said, indicating the investigation may be coming to a close. Numerous former White House aides and Mar-a-Lago employees — from security officials and valets — have been called to testify in secret proceedings in Washington, D.C.
The special counsel has gathered evidence that Trump’s staff moved boxes the day before a June 2022 visit to Mar-a-Lago by the FBI and a federal prosecutor, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News. This was first reported by The Washington Post.
Trump lawyers Rowley and Trusty had written a letter in May complaining that their client was being treated “unfairly” and asked to “discuss the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by your Special Counsel and his prosecutors.”
Smith’s office declined to comment.