WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A federal judge on Friday ordered an attorney for Donald Trump to give additional testimony before a grand jury investigating the former U.S. president’s handling of classified documents, according to media reports.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered attorney Evan Corcoran to testify after he invoked attorney-client privilege during a prior grand jury appearance in January and refused to answer investigators’ questions about his communications with Trump, according to CNN, the Washington Post and other media outlets.
Corcoran did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
In a statement, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung did not confirm the reports but said, “We will fight the Department of Justice on this front and all others that jeopardize fundamental American rights and values.”
Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2024, has accused the Justice Department of conducting a “witch hunt” against him.
Special Counsel Jack Smith is investigating Trump for the unlawful retention of national defense information at his Florida estate and he is also investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct the criminal probe.
In her ruling, Howell agreed with prosecutors that there were grounds for a “crime-fraud exception” to attorney-client privilege, according to the reports.
If Howell ruled on that basis, it means the judge concluded that the Justice Department has evidence that communications between Trump and Corcoran were used to further or cover up a crime.
Trump is facing multiple legal challenges and investigations, including over his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and his alleged role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied the allegations.
(Reporting by Eric Beech and Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)