Friday, 4 August 2023

'Absolutely exculpatory': Lawyer claims special counsel may not have reviewed key documents before indicting Trump

 The lawyer representing former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said special counsel Jack Smith's office requested documents "absolutely exculpatory" to former President Donald Trump only after indicting him.

The documents were originally handed over to Smith's office on July 23, CBS News reported, citing emails confirming their receipt.

A source close to Kerik's legal team said at the time that they believed the records, which include sworn affidavits from people raising concerns about the integrity of the 2020 presidential contest, show there was a genuine effort to investigate claims of voter fraud in the last election.

But on Wednesday, Aug. 2, a prosecutor working in Smith's office reached out to Kerik's attorney, Tim Parlatore, and requested the same documents, which he described as "absolutely exculpatory," that he had already sent.

"They bear directly on the essential element of whether Rudy Giuliani, and therefore Donald Trump, knew that their claims of election fraud were false," Parlatore told CBS News. "Good-faith reliance upon claims of fraud, even if they later turn out to be false, is very different from pushing fraud claims that you know to be false at the time."

Parlatore's explanation of the documents touches on a key aspect of Smith's case and the legal debate surrounding the indictment: Did Trump know his claims about the election were false, or did he truly believe there was widespread fraud that flipped the election outcome? And if he did truly believe that, are his assertions about the election protected by the First Amendment? 

The Daily Beast first reported last month that Parlatore had turned over the cache of documents.

"I have shared all of these documents, appropriately 600MB, mostly pdfs, with the Special Counsel and look forward to sitting down with them in about two weeks to discuss," Parlatore said in a statement on July 25.

That meeting has still not happened.

A representative for the special counsel declined to comment when asked by CBS News.

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