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Besides the Manhattan DA's probe, Trump faces federal investigations


For days now, all eyes have been on the Manhattan district attorney and his possible indictment of former President Donald Trump on state charges in New York. Trump said it would happen Tuesday. A reminder, if you need one - it's Friday - no indictment. Now, this, of course, is not the only investigation into the former president that is well underway. Others include the cases led by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas joins us now for the latest.

Good morning, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

FADEL: So let's start with the New York probe. There's been a lot of anticipation, stoked, really, by Trump himself, and now it's getting political. Where do things stand today?

LUCAS: Right. This is the Manhattan district attorney's investigation, as you said, this is into hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign to adult film star Stormy Daniels. As you've noted, there's been a lot of buildup...

FADEL: Yeah.

LUCAS: ...About this possibly happening this week, fueled in large part by former President Trump. Of course, that all turned out not to be true. But it did get people to pay attention, including many Republicans, and it got them to rally around Trump. In the end, though, the grand jury didn't meet, didn't hand up an indictment this week. So we wait, and indictment watch enters week two.

FADEL: And yet all week, everyone was talking about it. All right. That's the Manhattan DA's investigation. But Trump's also facing federal investigations - one into the events of January 6 and the other into the classified documents that were found at Mar-a-Lago, right?

LUCAS: That's right. That's right. And the stakes of those investigations, frankly, are much higher than the state case in New York. The federal case and the efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, for one, revolves around really fundamental aspects of this country's democracy. The Mar-a-Lago case has national security implications. So these really are big, weighty issues in those two investigations. And these cases have kept the courts and grand juries here in D.C. very, very busy in recent weeks and months.

FADEL: Yeah. Now, one person the special counsel's interested in hearing from in the January 6 investigation is former Vice President Mike Pence. Is Pence going to testify before the grand jury?

LUCAS: Well, there's a legal battle over that very question going on right now. Remember, Smith subpoenaed Pence weeks ago for testimony about the runup to January 6. Pence, of course, had meetings and conversations with Trump in the days and weeks leading up to the Capitol attack. So he's seen really as an important witness in this investigation. But Pence is fighting the subpoena. He's arguing that he's protected by the Constitution's speech or debate clause since, as vice president, he's also president of the Senate.

Trump, of course, also doesn't want Pence to testify. Now, there was a hearing at the federal courthouse here in D.C. yesterday about this very matter. Pence's attorney, Trump's attorneys and a top DOJ prosecutor argued about this before the chief judge. We don't know much more than that, though, because those arguments all took place behind closed doors.

FADEL: And the Mar-a-Lago investigation, what's the latest there?

LUCAS: Well, the Justice Department notched a victory this week when an appeals court ruled that one of Trump's attorneys, Evan Corcoran, has to turn over notes and other documents to prosecutors. Corcoran was was deeply involved in the back and forth that Trump had last year with the government about returning all those classified documents from Mar-a-Lago. Corcoran originally declined to answer certain questions or provide certain materials to prosecutors, the argument being that the records were protected by attorney-client privilege.

Now, the Justice Department argued that attorney-client privilege didn't apply here because there was reason to believe that Corcoran's legal advice to Trump had been used in the furtherance of a crime. The courts so far have agreed, and they've ordered that Corcoran turn over the materials. And Corcoran could appear before the grand jury here in D.C. as soon as today to do so.

FADEL: NPR's Brian Lucas.

Thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.