Trump’s Lawyers Meet With Prosecutors as Election Interference Charges Loom


Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump met on Thursday with officials in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, as federal prosecutors edged closer toward bringing an indictment against Mr. Trump in connection with his wide-ranging efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to three people familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear what subjects were discussed at the meeting or if Mr. Smith took part. But similar gatherings are often used by defense lawyers as a last-ditch effort to argue against charges being filed or to convey their version of the facts and the law.

On Thursday, the prosecutors were said to have listened courteously — without signaling their intentions beyond what they had conveyed in an earlier letter to the former president — as Mr. Trump’s lawyers made their arguments.

In a post following the meeting on his social media site, Mr. Trump said that his lawyers had “a productive meeting” with the prosecutors. He said they had explained to Mr. Smith’s team that “I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an indictment of me would only further destroy our country.”

The former president’s legal team — including Todd Blanche and a newly hired lawyer, John Lauro — has been on high alert since last week, when prosecutors working for the special counsel sent Mr. Trump a so-called target letter in the election interference case. It was the clearest signal that charges could be coming.

The letter described three potential counts that Mr. Trump could face: conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding and a Reconstruction-era civil rights charge that makes it a crime to threaten or intimidate anyone in the “free exercise or enjoyment” of any right or privilege provided by the Constitution or by federal law.

Another team of lawyers working at the time for Mr. Trump had a similar meeting with officials at the Justice Department last month, days before prosecutors led by Mr. Smith filed an indictment in Florida charging the former president with illegally holding onto highly sensitive classified documents after leaving the White House.

The indictment in the Florida case, which is set to go to trial in May, also accused Mr. Trump of conspiring with one of his personal aides, Walt Nauta, to obstruct the government’s repeated attempts to retrieve the classified documents. That case expanded on Thursday, as prosecutors unsealed conspiracy charges against another Trump employee, Carlos De Oliveira, and added three serious new charges against Mr. Trump.

If Mr. Trump is charged in connection with his efforts to reverse his election loss, it would be an extraordinary moment in which a former president — and current presidential candidate — stood accused of using the powers of his own government to remain in office against the will of the voters.

Mr. Trump, the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has already been charged not only in the classified documents case but also by the Manhattan district attorney, who has accused him of dozens of felonies related to hush money payments made to a porn actress in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump also faces scrutiny from the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., who is investigating his efforts to bend the results of the 2020 election in that state in his favor.

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.


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