The previously unreported and unsealed privilege lawsuit is a turning point for Trump’s post-presidency legal troubles.
How the battle is resolved may determine whether prosecutors can breach the firewall Trump has tried to keep around his talks in the West Wing and with lawyers he spoke to when he wanted to undo the 2020 election and they were working to get him to stop. help hold the presidency.
Other former senior Trump White House officials, including former White House adviser Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin, appeared before the grand jury in recent weeks after negotiating specific topics they declined to answer because of Trump’s privilege claims.Read:Indiana court allows abortions to resume as legal challenge continues
Herschmann himself is not in court to fight the subpoena. Instead, Trump’s lawyers are asking a judge to recognize the former president’s privilege claims and the right to confidentiality of his dealings. Herschmann’s grand jury testimony has been adjourned.
It is still unknown whether prosecutors want to use the information for possible cases against Trump or others.
Trump’s attorneys had expected the Justice Department to eventually request a court order to coerce additional testimony from White House witnesses, CNN previously reported.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Fight play under seal
Under the grand jury’s secrecy rules, the legal dispute is sealed, with no public documents to prove the state of affairs.
The Justice Department has been advocating a legal challenge along these lines for months, CNN previously reported.
In addition to Cipollone and Philbin, former vice presidential aides Greg Jacob and Marc Short have appeared before the grand jury at the DC courthouse and declined to answer some questions because of Trump’s executive privilege claims, CNN previously reported.Read:Family and friends mourn two brothers killed in refinery fire
On Thursday afternoon, Evan Corcoran, Tim Parlatore and John Rowley, who were working together to represent Trump in the Jan. 6 investigation, left the courthouse along with an attorney.
Parlatore told reporters he “represented a client” there, but declined to provide further details. The other lawyers declined to comment.
Pressure from Trump’s legal team to enforce privileges in general has been the subject of disagreement among his lawyers over legal strategy, people briefed on the matter said.
Herschmann received a grand jury subpoena 6 weeks ago for testimony and documents related to January. But before his court date, he was annoyed by what he saw as vague guidelines from Trump lawyers not to share information, people briefed on the matter say.
“A letter from President Trump without a court order would not suffice. I do not understand your statement that the Chief Justice will decide the matter,” Herschmann wrote. He then expressed concern about DOJ seeking to enforce his testimony if he refused to testify on certain questions.Read:Trump’s PAC spends over $3.8 million on legal fees in August
Herschmann previously testified before the House Committee about what he saw in the White House around January 6.
The outspoken attorney expressed concern that the Trump team’s approach might put him at risk for grand jury contempt, according to people briefed on the matter. He pushed back when Trump’s attorneys sent him a letter instructing him to mention executive or attorney-client privileges to the grand jury.
Other former Trump associates have expressed similar frustration at the vagueness of the Trump privilege claim, people informed about it tell CNN.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Andrew Millman contributed to this report.