Judge plans to unseal Trump grand jury records

Judge plans to unseal Trump grand jury records

Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, testified before a grand jury last Thursday just hours after a federal appeals court panel rejected a last-minute appeal from Trump’s lawyers seeking to raise concerns about executive privilege to appear.

After a series of rushed filings, three DC Circuit Court of Appeals judges — Karen Henderson, Robert Wilkins and Florence Pan — denied the emergency stay petition around 7 p.m. the day before Short’s testimony, according to a court filing reviewed by POLITICO that reflects the legal battle behind closed doors.

Trump’s team could have sought relief from the Supreme Court following that rejection, but such a request has yet to be filed in the dispute.

The appeals court panel’s decision is the result of a four-month fight that began June 10 over testimony related to grand jury subpoenas relating to the investigation into the January 6 attack. 2021 against the Capitol. This fight began around the same time Short first appeared before federal investigators. But that accelerated quickly on September 28, when Howell ruled against Trump. The nature of the decision remains sealed, but it involved two grand jury subpoenas that Trump had challenged.

The identity of the recipients of those subpoenas is unclear, although the timing suggests they were related to the testimony of Short and Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel.

POLITICS moved to unseal Howell’s Sept. 28 ruling and related documents last week. On Wednesday, Howell ordered the Justice Department and Trump’s attorneys to respond to that request by Nov. 15. The New York Times filed a similar unsealing request Friday.

The Washington Post first reported on the appeals court’s decision, but the identities of the judges who decided the case and the precise timeline of Trump’s secret battle have not previously been reported. CNN first reported that Jacob was also the subject of Howell’s decision in September and that Trump is launching a separate challenge to the potential testimony of former White House attorney Pat Cipollone and his then-deputy Pat Philbin.

Short was at the courthouse for more than three hours on October 13, but had little to say to reporters when he left. “I have nothing to offer you,” he said. He did not respond to subsequent requests for comment.

The rejection of Trump’s attempts to block testimony from his former White House aides was just the latest snub to him from the federal courts.

Just hours after Short left court, the Supreme Court — with no dissent noted — pushed back on Trump’s first effort to involve the justices in the separate criminal investigation into his storage of White House records in his estate. Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

The defeat followed other high court rebuffs from Trump dating back to the 2020 election, as well as rulings that paved the way for local New York prosecutors to obtain his financial records and House investigators. to obtain White House records relating to January 6.

The legal dispute over Short’s testimony escalated after Howell issued a sealed decision against Trump on Sept. 28, court records show.

Howell’s ruling dismissed attempts by the former president to postpone hearings as claims of executive privilege were disputed. It came just six days after three of Trump’s lawyers went to the federal courthouse to argue their case. Their exit from the building after their September 22 appearance was captured by photographers camped outside.

Howell’s decision effectively compelled Short to testify. Short had previously appeared for questioning by federal prosecutors in June following a grand jury subpoena, but he limited his testimony to avoid immediate questions about Trump’s claims of privilege.

On October 11, two weeks after Howell’s order, Trump requested an emergency stay of his decision with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Henderson, Wilkins and Pan demanded a response of up to 5,200 words to this Justice Department request by 4 p.m. on October 12, an unusually fast schedule even for emergency requests.

Henderson was nominated by President George HW Bush. Wilkins and Howell are nominated by President Barack Obama. Pan is the new DC Circuit judge, appointed by President Joe Biden.

The docket of the appeals court gives no indication that a judge objected to last week’s decision. Asked about it the next day, a clerk said the panel’s order on the emergency suspension stood. under seal.

All the documents filed by the parties before the formation of the Court of Appeal also remain under seal. Trump’s appeal remains pending, so he could still ask the DC Circuit to delve into the legal issues and make a formal ruling on whether he has the right to block testimony from other House aides or advisers. White. He can always take the case urgently to the Supreme Court to prevent additional witnesses from testifying.

A Trump spokesperson declined to comment. The Justice Department also declined to comment.

The secret legal battle appears similar to the one waged in 2018 against the team of then-special counsel Robert Mueller. At the time, a company facing a grand jury subpoena fought to comply with a subpoena for records sought by Mueller’s prosecutors.

Due to extraordinary efforts to maintain secrecy Around the dispute, many details remained under wraps for about two years, but it was revealed that a judge had imposed a $50,000-a-day contempt fine on the then-unknown party resisting the subpoena.

The fight finally reached the Supreme Court, but the judges decreases enter into litigation. In 2020, CNN reported that the battle was linked to an investigation by Mueller into a potential transfer of funds to the 2016 Trump campaign from an Egyptian state-owned bank. Mueller eventually turned the investigation over to other prosecutors, CNN said, but no charges were ever brought.

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