Three Trump lawyers have appeared before grand jury in documents inquiry | Donald Trump

Three lawyers for Donald Trump recently appeared before a federal grand jury as part of the special counsel investigation into his possible retention of national security materials at his Mar-a-Lago resort, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The lawyers – Evan Corcoran, Christina Bobb and, most recently, Alina Habba – were involved in efforts to compile documents that had been subpoenaed. They remain among a small number of people to have searched Mar-a-Lago.

Habba appeared before the grand jury in the documents case in recent weeks, the sources said, a notable development given she is not a member of the legal team defending Trump in that criminal matter and has represented the former president in civil suits.

The details of Habba’s testimony are unclear, though she was asked about her search last year of Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago – from where the FBI recovered documents marked “top secret” weeks later – after Trump was subpoenaed by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, in a separate case.

In James’ civil case against the Trump family and their business for alleged financial fraud, Habba has been the lead lawyer and told the court she had searched Mar-a-Lago and other properties for documents.

The move by the special counsel to summon Habba before the grand jury makes her the third known member of the Trump legal team to do so, after Corcoran and Bobb also made appearances in early January, and potentially the only lawyer who had gone through Trump’s office.

A spokesperson for the justice department declined to comment.

Corcoran was the lead Trump lawyer who handled his responses to the US justice department when federal prosecutors started investigating the unauthorized retention of documents marked classified,. He searched the resort when Trump was subpoenaed for any such materials in June last year.

He was asked which parts of Mar-a-Lago he searched when trying to find documents in response to the subpoena, whether he was instructed to search certain areas, and where the documents came from that he did return, one of the sources said.

Corcoran answered some questions about where at Mar-a-Lago he searched for documents but declined to answer questions about his interactions with Trump and Boris Epshteyn, Trump’s in-house counsel, citing attorney-client privilege.

On Tuesday, the justice department sought to compel his testimony with a sealed motion, one of the sources said, and the New York Times earlier reported. The motion was filed with Beryl Howell, the chief judge for the District of Columbia, who has repeatedly ruled for the government in recent matters.

He appeared before the grand jury in the early weeks of January, around the same time the justice department subpoenaed Bobb to testify about her limited involvement in the June search, which led her to certify subpoena compliance that later turned out to be incomplete.

The exact nature of Bobb’s testimony is also unknown, though she has faced scrutiny over that letter, which claimed that a “diligent search” had been conducted despite caveats that she was signing a certification “based upon the information provided to me” and to the “best of my knowledge”.

The certification, which proved to be incomplete after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago a few months later and found an additional 101 classified-marked documents, appears to be at the center of the special counsel’s criminal investigation examining obstruction.

Although Bobb signed the certification, she on two different occasions told the justice department that only Corcoran had conducted the search and she was pressed into signing the statement, the Guardian has reported.

The certification itself was also originally drafted by Corcoran, Bobb is reported to have said in her interview. Corcoran sent it to Bobb before the justice department’s counterintelligence chief, Jay Bratt, arrived on 3 June to collect a folder of responsive records, the Guardian reported.

But unsure whether the subpoena had been fully complied with, Bobb told Corcoran to amend the certification to add caveats – including that she was signing as the “custodian of records” that did not formally exist based on what she had been told, the Guardian reported.

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