Trump lawyers meet with special counsel’s office as grand jury convenes
Lawyers for former president Donald Trump met Thursday morning with prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s office, more than a week after Trump said he received a letter from the Justice Department telling him he could face criminal charges in connection with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The meeting, confirmed by a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it, is another sign that Smith could be close to seeking an indictment of Trump — or making a charging decision — in the long-running elections probe.
The grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the investigation also met Thursday at the federal courthouse in downtown Washington, and a prosecutor from Smith’s office was seen there as well.
It is not uncommon in high-profile cases for defense lawyers to get a meeting with Justice Department officials toward the end of an investigation, essentially so they can present their best argument for why their client should not be charged. But such presentations rarely change prosecutors’ minds, current and former officials say.
A person briefed on the meeting said the Justice Department did not give Trump’s lawyers specific information about if or when an indictment would come. In the early afternoon, Trump posted a message on Truth Social that said: “My attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning, explaining in detail that I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an Indictment of me would only further destroy our Country.”
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.
Smith and his team have been examining efforts by Trump and his allies to block Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, including the events that led up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Investigators have looked at ads and email messages that sought to fundraise off false claims of election fraud, as well as the decision by Republican electors in some states won by Biden to send signed statements purporting to affirm Trump as the victor.
Trump has already been indicted in a separate Justice Department investigation, also led by Smith’s office, involving classified documents that remained at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida home and private club, long after he left the White House.
In that case, he faces 37 separate counts, 31 of them for alleged willful retention of national defense information. Each of those 31 counts represents a different classified document that Trump allegedly withheld — 21 that were discovered when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago last August, and 10 that were turned over to the FBI in a sealed envelope two months earlier. His longtime valet, Walt Nauta, faces six charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document, concealing a document and scheming to conceal.
Trump is also criminally charged in New York state for allegedly falsifying business records in connection with hush-money payments during the 2016 election.
The New York case is scheduled for for trial in March; the classified-documents case is scheduled for trial in May, in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Trump has pleaded not guilty in both New York and Florida, and has denied wrongdoing in the elections probe as well.
This is a developing story. It will be updated.
Tom Jackman contributed to this report.