Judge Cannon Adds New Twist in Trump’s Classified Documents Trial

Judge Aileen Cannon, overseeing the classified documents case against Donald Trump, has ordered a review of a separate court’s decision that allowed testimony from Trump’s former lawyer as an exception to the attorney-client confidentiality rule. Prosecutors obtained crucial evidence from Evan Corcoran under the so-called crime-fraud exception, but Judge Cannon said she wants to re-examine the decision to admit his testimony. 

In 2023, US District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the attorney-client privilege between Corcoran and Trump could be set aside, allowing Special Counsel Jack Smith to use Corcoran’s testimony against the former President. Nevertheless, Judge Cannon has now ruled that the court must “make factual findings afresh on the crime-fraud issue.” She has called for a new hearing where both sides can present their case. 

Prosecutors urged Cannon to reconsider, saying the hearing would become a “mini-trial,” but she rejected those concerns, saying it was crucial to adjudicate “factual and legal issues.” 

The lawyer’s testimony is crucial to the case against Donald Trump. He claims that the former President suggested they not “play ball” when investigators sought to search for classified files at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Corcoran took extensive notes of his interactions with Mr. Trump at the time and testified that he rummaged through boxes at Trump’s home and found a folder of 38 documents marked classified and subject to a prosecution subpoena. He said the former President made a “plucking motion” with his hand, indicating that Corcoran should dispose of anything problematic. 

Federal prosecutors accuse Donald Trump of mishandling classified documents and refusing to hand them over upon request. He has pleaded not guilty to 40 criminal counts, and his trial was due to begin in May, but Judge Cannon pushed it forward in March to an undetermined date. 

Legal experts say the trial is unlikely to commence before the November elections, but prosecutors have made clear they want to resolve the matter before then.