Trump arraignment live updates: Trump pleads not guilty, greets supporters after court appearance

Former Trump attorney Timothy Parlatore on indictment


Former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore acknowledged that the indictment, if one assumes everything in it is true, doesn’t look great on its face. But Parlatore noted that as a criminal defense attorney, he often looks at indictments and the evidence doesn’t always match up the way the Justice Department says it does. 

“CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell asked Parlatore if Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr’s assessment that it’s a “very, very damning indictment” is wrong. 

“Well, I think that the problem is, you look at the indictment and if you just read it by yourself and you assume that everything in it is true and you kind of ignore a lot of the conduct of the DOJ team in getting this way, it can look that way,” Parlatore said. “However, as a criminal defense attorney, one of the things that I do for a living is I take documents like this, I look at them a little more skeptically. I then go through the evidence to see if it actually matches up. And oftentimes, it doesn’t. DOJ oftentimes will bring indictments where by the time we get to discovery, we realize, these aren’t true, or they’re certainly not airtight.

“Just because it looks damning” doesn’t mean it is, Parlatore said. 

Parlatore questioned the way the Justice Department has handled the case, in particular, the crime-fraud exception that was granted by a judge to pierce attorney-client privilege and allowed records of a conversation between Trump and Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to be presented to the grand jury.

Corcoran argued Judge Beryl Howell “got it wrong.” Beyond his contention that Trump’s legal team wasn’t “able to fully litigate the motion,” in response to the special counsel’s motion to pierce the privilege, Parlatore cast Trump’s comments to Corcoran as questions it would be reasonable for a client to ask: what am I required to do? What are we allowed to do?

He argued that one element that has not received much mention is Trump’s remark, Parlatore said, “where he’s specifically saying, ‘I read about when Hillary Clinton got a subpoena and David Kendall deleted 33,000 emails. Are we allowed to do the same thing because they didn’t get into trouble?” “You want clients to ask you those kinds of questions,” he argued, so they can understand what their rights are, and they should be able to ask those questions in an attorney-client privilege environment. 

Trump, according to notes included in the indictment, said, “I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t, I don’t want you looking through my boxes.” He also said, “Well what if we, what happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?” and “Well look, isn’t it better if there are no documents?” 

Parlatore said ultimately, he thinks that testimony will be suppressed because Howell “got it wrong.” 

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