A new judge is poised to take over a grand jury investigation into former President Donald Trump, including an investigation into classified documents found at his Florida estate.
U.S. District Judge James “Jeb” Boasberg is sworn in Friday as the chief judge of the federal district court in Washington, DC. The role will give Boasberg, appointed by former President Barack Obama, oversight of grand jury cases as well as closed disputes that have emerged in investigations involving Trump.
Boasberg replaces current Chief Justice Beryl Howell, who was also appointed by Obama. Howell has served in the top role during numerous other high-profile investigations, including an earlier Justice Department investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016. The position of the chief judge is renewed every seven years.
The position is important as special counsel Jack Smith conducts a grand jury investigation into Trump’s storage of hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, and efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election before the insurgency at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The investigations have involved many closed disputes, including an ongoing battle over whether prosecutors will be able to obtain additional grand jury testimony from Trump’s lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran. Corcoran prepared a statement last year saying Mar-a-Lago had been “thoroughly searched” for classified documents, even as FBI agents searched the home with a warrant weeks later and found about 100 additional classified documents.
Corcoran invoked the attorney-client privilege during a grand jury appearance several weeks ago. But Smith’s team tried to question him again, citing an exception to the attorney-client privilege. That dispute was played out behind closed doors, and it was unclear whether it would be resolved before Boasberg took over as chief justice.
Separately, former Vice President Mike Pence said he would contest a grand jury subpoena seeking to compel him to testify in the special counsel’s investigation on Jan. 6. Pence argued that because he was acting Senate president on Jan. 6, when he presided over a joint session of Congress to confirm the election results, he is protected from being forced to review his actions under the Constitution. speech or debate,” which protects members of Congress.
It is not clear how this disagreement will end.
Boasberg served as a federal judge in 2012. He also previously served as chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and in that role raised concerns with the FBI after a Justice Department watchdog report found serious errors and omissions in surveillance requests filed during the Trump-Russia investigation.
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