A new judge is poised to oversee the grand jury investigation into former President Donald Trump, including the ongoing probe into classified documents found at his Florida estate.
US District Judge James “Jeb” Boasberg will be sworn in as Chief Justice of the Federal District Court in Washington, DC on Friday. That role will give Boasberg, an appointment by former President Barack Obama, oversight of grand jury matters and settled disputes over them that have surfaced in investigations with Trump.
Boasberg replaces current Chief Justice Beryl Howell, also appointed by Obama. Howell has spearheaded numerous other high-profile investigations, including a previous Justice Department investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The chief justice’s position rotates every seven years.
The position is important at a time when Special Counsel Jack Smith is leading a grand jury investigation into Trump’s keeping of hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, as well as the efforts of Trump and his allies , to undo these 2020 presidential election results before the January 6, 2021 riot in the US Capitol.
The investigation included several sealed disputes, including a recent dispute over whether prosecutors can obtain additional grand jury testimony from Trump’s attorney, M. Evan Corcoran. Corcoran penned a statement last year saying a “careful search” was being conducted at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, although weeks later FBI agents searched the home with an arrest warrant and about 100 other classified documents found markers.
Corcoran invoked attorney-client privilege in a grand jury appearance weeks ago. But Smith’s team has attempted to re-interview him, citing an exception to attorney-client privilege. That dispute has been played out behind closed doors, and it wasn’t clear if it would be resolved before Boasberg took over as chief justice.
Separately, former Vice President Mike Pence said he will contest a grand jury subpoena to compel him to testify in the January 6 special counsel inquest. Pence has argued that because he served in his role as President of the Senate on Jan. 6, when he chaired a joint session of Congress to confirm the election results, he is protected from being forced to enforce his actions under the Constitution to address Speech-or-debate clause protecting members of Congress.
It is not clear how this disagreement will end.
Boasberg served as Bundesbank in 2012. He also previously served as chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in which capacity he raised concerns with the FBI after a Justice Department watchdog report identified serious errors and omissions in surveillance requests filed during the Trump-Investigations in Russia.
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