Trump Lawyers Scramble To Make Midnight Deadlines In Escalating Battle With DOJ

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Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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An appeals court gave former President Donald Trump’s team mere hours to respond to a legal request — setting the deadline at midnight — in an increasing battle concerning his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

U.S. Judge Beryl Howell of the D.C. District Court wrote Friday that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office had preliminary evidence that Trump knowingly misled his attorneys about mishandling classified documents after he left office, ABC News reported, citing anonymous sources.

Howell — who resigned Friday — also reportedly wrote in the sealed filing that Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran could no longer use attorney-client privilege to avoid questioning, and ordered him to hand over documents tied to the “criminal scheme,” including “handwritten notes, invoices, and transcriptions of personal audio recordings,” ABC News reported. She reportedly wrote prosecutors had preliminary evidence that Trump committed crimes relating to the documents, but would still need more evidence to seek charges against the former president.

Corcoran had previously testified in January about what had happened prior to the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago, and using a June statement, attested that Trump’s team had done a “diligent search” of the boxes that were moved from the White House to his Florida residence. The attorney who signed the statement, Christina Bobb, added the statement: “to the best of my knowledge,” CNN reported. (RELATED: Mar-A-Lago Staff Subpoenaed To Testify In Trump Classified Documents Case)

The FBI then took hundreds of pages of government documents from Mar-a-Lago in August, including classified documents.

The D.C. Court of Appeals temporarily stayed Howell’s order and then issued an extraordinarily short deadline for Trump’s team, giving them hours to respond before midnight on Tuesday, and “specify each document.” Smith’s office was given a deadline of 6 a.m. to respond to Trump’s team asking for an extension of the stay on Howell’s ruling, Politico reported.

Trump’s team met the midnight deadline by making two filings, and Smith’ office responded less than 30 minutes before the 6 a.m. deadline, also meeting their deadline, according to Politico’s Kyle Cheney.

PALM BEACH, FL – JANUARY 11: The Atlantic Ocean is seen adjacent to President Donald Trump’s beach front Mar-a-Lago resort, also sometimes called his Winter White House, the day after Florida received an exemption from the Trump Administration’s newly announced ocean drilling plan on January 11, 2018 in Palm Beach, Florida. Florida was the only state to receive an exemption from the announced deregulation plan to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in all previously protected waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump has denied that he engaged in any wrongdoing related to classified documents, and his campaign team issued a statement Tuesday discrediting the ABC story and Howell.

“Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team,” the statement read. “These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump.”

“The real story here, that Fake News ABC SHOULD be reporting on, is that prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever,” the statement added.