Special counsel discovers “suspicious” Trump call — and targets another one of his lawyers: report

Jack Smith's team is seeking to compel testimony from Jennifer Little, Trump's lawyer in the Fulton County probe

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published March 17, 2023 8:44AM (EDT)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Prosecutor Jack Smith (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Prosecutor Jack Smith (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Special counsel Jack Smith is seeking to force two attorneys representing former President Donald Trump to testify in the Justice Department's investigation into classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.

Smith's prosecutors last month sought to compel Trump attorney Evan Corcoran's testimony by asking a judge to grant a crime-fraud exception, which suggests Trump and his allies may have used Corcoran's services to further a crime. Corcoran handled Trump's discussions with the DOJ after investigators sought to recover the documents and drafted a statement affirming that all classified materials had been returned after a "diligent search" — before the FBI discovered more than 100 additional classified documents during its search of Mar-a-Lago last August.

Smith is seeking to compel Corcoran's testimony about an alleged phone call he had with Trump after the government "grew suspicious" that the former president had not actually returned all of the documents, ABC News reported on Thursday.

The alleged phone call took place on June 24, 2022, the same day that prosecutors subpoenaed the Trump Organization for surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago.

But the report added that it's not clear how Smith's team learned about the call or why they are focused on it in their investigation.

Cocoran previously appeared before a grand jury in the probe but declined to answer any questions about his conversations with Trump. Corcoran also refused to answer questions about his efforts to find other potential classified documents and his role in crafting the June 3 statement.

New York University Law Prof. Ryan Goodman, a former Pentagon counsel, predicted that Smith's team would likely "have a strong hand" if they get access to the information, adding that they "very well might under the crime-fraud exception."

But Smith is also targeting another Trump attorney, Jennifer Little, who is representing the former president in an unrelated Fulton County, Ga. investigation into his efforts to pressure officials to overturn his election loss in the state.

Investigators are seeking to compel Little's testimony after she sought to assert attorney-client privilege, though the report does not mention why Smith's team is seeking to interview her in the documents probe, rather than the DOJ's probe into Trump's role in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

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Corcoran has hired his own attorney as Smith attempts to pierce his attorney-client privilege claims, as has fellow Trump lawyer Christina Bobb, who signed the document falsely asserting that Trump had returned all of the classified documents.

"President Trump has done nothing wrong," a spokesperson for Trump told ABC News in a statement. "Radical Democrats continue to weaponize the justice system against President Trump, including in their attempts to demolish our Constitution by stripping away President Trump's right to counsel, because they know that he will win back the White House, as he leads both Republicans and Democrats by wide margins. President Trump will not be deterred and will always continue to fight for the American people."

Smith's team has also subpoenaed about two dozen people, including members of Trump's inner circle and Mar-a-Lago staff, to testify before the grand jury, CNN reported on Thursday. Investigators are interested in what people around the resort may have seen or heard during their work duties, including whether they saw boxes or documents in Trump's office suite and elsewhere.

"They're casting an extremely wide net – anyone and everyone who might have seen something," a source familiar with the DOJ efforts told CNN.

Goodman told CNN that the resort staff "may be invisible" to Trump but could hold information valuable to investigators.

"They are the eyes and ears, and they can see things," he said. "Or they can know things, might even be somewhat rumor, but then they can at least give the investigators leads, so they can tell the investigators who is present in different conversations."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Christina Bobb Donald Trump Evan Corcoran Jack Smith Jennifer Little Politics