Donald Trump's lawyer has to hand over documents in Mar-a-Lago records probe, according to court
WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court upheld an order Wednesday for the production of documents in a Justice Department investigation of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, according to court records and news reports.
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the order Friday from U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell. But the order was part of a sealed case and the appeals court didn't explain what the documents are about.
The appeals panel simply told the parties to comply with the lower-court's order to "produce documents." The clerk also posted a series of deadlines, April 21 for Trump's lawyers and May 8 for the Justice Department, to file further appeals arguments in the case.
Federal prosecutors are trying to force Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify about whether Trump misled him about the documents, which were seized under subpoena in June and during an FBI search in August, according to ABC News and Politico, based on anonymous sources.
But Trump argues Corcoran shouldn’t have to testify because his communications with Trump should remain confidential under attorney-client privilege, according to ABC and Politico.
The privilege doesn’t cover discussions of criminal activity, which prosecutors have alleged.
Here's what we know about the case:
Trump dismisses reports as 'fake news'
Trump’s presidential campaign called the ABC News report “fake news” and Howell a “Never Trump” judge. “These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump,” the statement said.
The case is sealed so the decision isn’t public. But after Trump appealed, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals initially halted Howell’s order Tuesday and set a series of rapid-fire deadlines to resolve the case, which are public, even if the documents aren’t.
Who decided the case?
The appeals panel's decision came after Trump’s lawyers filed eight pages of arguments by a deadline of Tuesday midnight. Earlier Trump motions to freeze the case totaled 6,167 words and 5,198 words.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors met a deadline 6 a.m. Wednesday to submit 6,455 words of arguments.
A three-judge panel – Judges Cornelia Pillard, Michelle Childs and Florence Pan – heard the appeal. Pillard was appointed by Barack Obama. Childs and Pan were appointed by President Joe Biden.
What is the case about?
Smith is investigating Trump’s role in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, and for about 300 classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House. Trump returned some of the records in response to a request from the National Archives and Records Administration, but others were seized under subpoena and during the search.
The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago for evidence of obstruction of justice and potential violations of the Espionage Act, based on a warrant from a federal magistrate.
Corcoran’s testimony could be significant because he was central to Trump's legal team when federal authorities subpoenaed and searched for the records. Another Trump lawyer, Christina Bobb, signed a document in June certifying all classified records had been returned even though more were found in August.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump lawyer ordered to produce documents in Mar-a-Lago investigation