The fight in court over the franchise, which was previously unreported and sealed, is a watershed in Trump’s post-presidency legal woes.
How the dispute is resolved could determine whether prosecutors can tear down the firewall Trump has tried to keep in place in his West Wing talks and with the lawyers he spoke to as he sought to nullify the 2020 election and worked to help him hold on to the presidency.
Former senior Trump White House officials, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Vice President Patrick Philbin, have appeared before the grand jury in recent weeks, after negotiating specific topics they were refusing to answer a question about, due to Trump’s claims of privilege.
Hirschman himself is not in court against the subpoena. Instead, Trump’s lawyers are asking the judge to acknowledge the former president’s privilege claims and the right to confidentiality about his dealings. Hirschman’s grand jury testimony has been postponed.
It is still unknown whether prosecutors want to use the information in potential cases against Trump or others.
Trump’s lawyers expected the Justice Department to eventually seek a judge’s order to compel White House witnesses to obtain additional testimony, CNN previously reported.
The Ministry of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.
Fight under the seal
Under grand jury secrecy rules, the legal dispute is reserved, and there are no public documents to show the state of play.
CNN previously reported that the Department of Justice has been preparing a legal challenge along these lines for months.
In addition to Cipollone and Philbin, former Vice Presidential assistants Greg Jacob and Mark Short appeared before a grand jury in D.C. court and declined to answer some questions due to Trump’s allegations of executive privilege, CNN previously reported.
On Thursday afternoon, Evan Corcoran, Tim Parlator and John Rowley, who are representing Trump in the January 6 investigation, left the courtroom with a legal clerk.
Parlator told reporters that he was there “representing an agent” but did not provide further details. Other lawyers declined to comment.
People familiar with the matter said Trump’s legal team’s push to assert the franchise widely has been a matter of disagreement among the team’s lawyers over legal strategy.
Hirschman received a grand jury subpoena to testify and documents relating to January 6 weeks ago. But before his trial date he was disturbed by what he saw as vague instructions from Trump’s lawyers not to share the information, people familiar with the matter said.
“A letter of guidance from President Trump without a court order would not suffice,” Hirschman wrote. “I do not understand your statement that the Chief Justice will decide the case.” He then raised concerns that the Ministry of Justice would seek to compel him to testify if he refused to testify on certain questions.
Hirschman previously testified before the House committee about what he saw at the White House on January 6.
The outspoken attorney has expressed concerns that the Trump team’s approach could put him at risk of grand jury contempt, according to people familiar with the matter. He backed down when Trump’s lawyers sent him a letter instructing that he cite the privileges of an executive director or attorney and client for a grand jury.
Former Trump aides have expressed similar frustration at the ambiguity of the Trump privilege claim, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Andrew Millman contributed to this report.