Trump lawyers tried to limit testimony from Pence aides to Jan. 1. 6 grand jury

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump have entered a high-stakes legal battle to try to limit the scope of a former top White House aide to testify before a federal grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

The action has sparked a potentially precedent-setting fight that could sway the Justice Department’s January 1 investigation. On June 6, 2021, the Capitol launched an attack and addressed the scope of the former president’s assertion of executive or attorney-client privilege to protect the confidentiality of advisor communications.

The exact outlines of the battle, which CNN first reported on, were unclear. The dispute involves testimony from two top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence — his former chief of staff Mark Short and former legal counsel Greg Jacobs, a person familiar with the matter said. The people appeared before a grand jury in July and answered some, but not all, questions based on Trump’s claim of privilege, the people said.

The judiciary investigates Trump’s actions in January. 6 Criminal investigation

Grand jury business is usually secret. Matters not scheduled publicly, however, were not publicly scheduled before Trump’s lawyers M. Evan Corcoran, John P. Rowley III and Timothy C. Parlatore appeared Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., and federal prosecutor Thomas Window on Jan. 6. m. A representative of Trump was in attendance on Jan. 1, a person familiar with the matter said. 6 Related Litigation.

The people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing criminal investigation.

Trump’s lawyers and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., said they could not comment on grand jury matters. Efforts to contact Short or Jacobs representatives were not immediately successful Friday night.

Disputes over executive privilege and coercion of witnesses before a grand jury are usually heard by Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell in Washington.While Howell has acted swiftly in the past, any An appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could be extended until the end of the year, and the arguments are unlikely to be made public until then. A spokesman for Howell did not respond to a request for comment.

In most fights over executive privilege – usually between Congress and the executive branch Instead of risking a precedent failure for either branch of government, the two sides usually compromise and resolve their differences.

But the stakes in a criminal investigation into Trump’s conduct during the presidential transition following his failed re-election in November 2020 could make negotiations more difficult.

The Justice Department is asking witnesses about conversations with Trump, his lawyers and others in his inner circle who tried to replace certified voters in some of the states Joe Biden won with Trump allies, people familiar with the matter said . Prosecutors asked hours of detailed questions about meetings Trump chaired in December 2020 and January 2021 and his pressure on Pence to overturn the election. Those lines of inquiry are separate from the investigation into classified documents recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate — though the case has also sparked legal battles over issues of executive and attorney-client privilege.

Both Short and Jacob have unique windows into these events. Both were with Pence in January. 6 at the Capitol. They testified with Pence’s approval ahead of a parallel investigation by a House select committee, though the former vice president himself has refused to do so. Jacobs also told the committee that two days before the unrest, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Eastman, admitted that the plot to have Pence help to overturn the election was illegal.

In other legal proceedings, Trump’s lawyers have defended claims of executive privilege, warning that a ruling to the contrary could compromise the presidency by weakening the confidentiality of conversations by the president’s top advisers. They argue that allowing a current president to unilaterally waive a predecessor’s executive privilege could also politicize and undermine the purpose of the privilege.

However, Trump’s legal options for refusing to testify may be limited by a series of court decisions since Jan. 1. 6.

Courts have long held that White House claims of executive or attorney-client privilege are easier to overcome when information is sought in criminal proceedings rather than Congress. Prosecutors’ criterion is whether they can show that witnesses may have information important to a criminal investigation that would not otherwise be readily available.

and While lawmakers must meet a higher standard, the court has sided with Congress since January and rejected Trump’s attempt to withhold thousands of pages of White House communications and records from the House of Representatives starting Jan. 1. 6 The Commission, and similar efforts by Eastman, claim attorney-client confidentiality.

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