Prosecutors in the special counsel's office have presented compelling preliminary evidence that former President Donald Trump knowingly and deliberately misled his own attorneys about his retention of classified materials after leaving office, a former top federal judge wrote Friday in a sealed filing, according to sources who described its contents to ABC News.
U.S. Judge Beryl Howell, who on Friday stepped down as the D.C. district court's chief judge, wrote last week that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith's office had made a "prima facie* showing that the former president had committed criminal violations," according to the sources, and that attorney-client privileges invoked by two of his lawyers could therefore be pierced.
Federal prosecutors have claimed that lawyers for Trump certified in June 2022 that a "diligent search" of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate turned up just 38 classified documents stored in a secured storage room. But two months later, when FBI agents raided the premises, they found more than 100 additional documents marked classified -- some of which were located outside of the storage room, including in Trump's office desk, prosecutors said.
* Prima facie, meaning "sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted".