Donald Trump’s defense lawyers and special counsel Jack Smith met Thursday in Washington, DC, without the former president’s team getting any guidance about timing of a possible indictment, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The meeting happened on the same day that the grand jury hearing evidence from the special counsel’s probe into election subversion efforts by Trump and his allies was seen at the federal courthouse.
A court official said that there will not be any grand jury indictment returns on Thursday. Grand jury proceedings are secret and it’s unclear what Thursday’s developments mean for Smith’s investigation.
Since receiving a letter from Smith indicating he’s a target of the investigation earlier this month, Trump had argued against a meeting between his attorneys and Smith’s team because the former president believed the indictment was already a done deal, two sources familiar with his thinking said.
In seeking a meeting with Smith’s team, Trump’s lawyers hoped to at least delay any potential plans for the grand jury to hand up an indictment Thursday, people briefed on the plans said.
Another source familiar with the legal team’s thinking told CNN they also expected to discuss the logistics of how a potential indictment and arraignment of the former president would work.
“My attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning, explaining in detail that I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an Indictment of me would only further destroy our Country,” Trump said on Truth Social.
Trump’s political and legal strategy has been to delay any possible trials – including until potentially after the 2024 election – and to put the Justice Department in an uncomfortable position where they are pursuing a prosecution of President Joe Biden’s chief 2024 rival even as primary voters are beginning to have their say.
Every day they can push back an indictment is a day that pushes back an ultimate trial date.
The members of Trump’s legal team who attended Thursday’s meeting with Smith were John Lauro and Todd Blanche, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Lauro recently joined the team to handle matters related to the 2020 election and the run-up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
Blanche has represented Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case and the Manhattan criminal case stemming from a hush-money scheme.
This is the second time Trump is facing potential charges brought by Smith’s team. Before Trump was charged in Florida in Smith’s probe into the mishandling of classified documents from his White House, he also was notified by prosecutors that he was a target of that investigation.
Prosecutors aren’t required to give investigatory targets such a warning. Around the time Trump was given the heads up about the potential classified documents charges against him, his lawyers also met in early June with prosecutors for Smith’s team. The classified documents indictment was brought against him later that month.
This story has been updated with additional developments.