DOJ using 'crime-fraud exception' to compel Trump allies to testify: report
Jack Smith, Donald Trump (Smith photo by Robin Van Lonkhuijsen for AFP/ Trump by Saul Loeb for AFP)

In a New York Times report Tuesday that special counsel Jack Smith is taking the approach to force allies of Donald Trump to testify before his investigations. In this case, it appears to be about the document scandal and not Jan. 6.

At issue is whether the "crime-fraud exception" could be used to force lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify about the ordeal.

When the DOJ compelled Chapman University to release the emails of John Eastman, that was the exception used in court, which the judge in the case allowed, turning over the emails.

Former Vice President Mike Pence can't use any privilege options to save himself from "snitching" on Trump because he's already written about his experience and detailed information that would fall under executive privilege. The only thing he has left is his effort to try and apply the "Speech and Debate Clause" which says no official can be arrested for something that has to do with their job as an official. It's a pretty big stretch, legal experts have complained, and when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to use it, it didn't work.

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Smith is asking the court to allow him to use this exception as he calls on those from the White House to testify. In this case, it's being suggested to compel Corcoran to testify. Trump and his cohorts may have sought council from Mr. Corcoran leading to a special council subpoenaing him.

One question is whether Trump or his allies obstructed justice when failing to turn over documents he took from the White House for about a year as the National Archives begged for them back. Corcoran was the lawyer that met with investigators in June to hand over more than 30 documents in response to the subpoena the first time. This was prior to the search warrant being issued.

Trump's other lawyer, Christina Bobb then signed a sworn affidavit swearing that she had done a "diligent search" at Mar-a-Lago and could confirm that there were no other documents with classified markings. It proved to be false and the FBI executed a search warrant, where they found more than 100 additional classified documents.

Corcoran, who appeared before the grand jury, asserted his attorney-client privilege on behalf of Trump, leading to Smith's request for a crime-fraud exception.

Conservative Trump ally Boris Epshteyn brought Corcoran into the fold of Trump allies. The Times reported that there had been some questions about him by Smith in the grand jury.

"One person briefed on the interviews said that investigators were interested in discussions between Mr. Epshteyn and others about establishing a possible common-interest privilege in the documents case. A common-interest privilege creates a kind of umbrella privilege allowing groups of lawyers and clients to communicate with each other confidentially," said the report.

The question from the special counsel about whether Epshteyn tried to influence witness testimony, the Times reported citing those involved.

Read the full report at The New York Times.