Trump lawyers may try to invoke executive privilege to withhold transition evidence

Posted at 10:38 AM, Feb 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 12:38:16-05

Trump campaign lawyers laid out in a court filing Thursday the tactics they could use to hold back evidence related to the presidential transition from federal investigators and in lawsuits.

The short outline of arguments about the transition confirms for the first time in a public court filing what others close to President Donald Trump have suggested for months, according to previous CNN reporting, that the presidential transition should have as much protection around it for being a quasi-governmental operation as the executive branch has.

The court filing Thursday related to plans for evidence discovery in a lawsuit in its early stages over the Russian hack of the Democrats in 2016.

The campaign’s lawyers raised questions about whether someone can go to court seeking evidence from the transition, which could come up again if others pursue transition documents.

At least one US Attorney’s Office is looking into Trump-related activity between the 2016 election and Trump’s inauguration. Prosecutors from the Manhattan federal office have subpoenaed the inaugural committee for donor and vendor information this week.

Separately, CNN previously reported that when special counsel Robert Mueller sought answers from Trump to written questions, the President’s private lawyers balked at giving responses about after the election, believing that time could be covered by executive privilege, even though Trump hadn’t yet been sworn in as President. The defense attorneys did not address in full what their legal arguments may be regarding transition documents.

But generally, they said they may fight about:

– “whether presidential transition materials are protected from disclosure by the Constitution”;

– “whether presidential transition materials are protected from disclosure by the Presidential Transition Act”;

– “whether presidential transition materials are protected from disclosure by an evidentiary privilege.”