The Department of Justice’s investigation into the highly classified documents found in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home has been turning up the heat not only on the former president — but also on multiple members of his legal team.
One attachment to its blockbuster filing from Tuesday night appeared to show one of Trump’s attorneys falsely certifying that the former president returned all of the subpoenaed documents to the federal government. Though that attorney’s name is redacted in the certification letter, the New York Times identified her as Christina Bobb, a former TV personality for the right-wing network One America News.
According to the Justice Department, one of Trump’s unidentified lawyers “explicitly prohibited” officials from searching certain boxes during their visit in June.
“As the former President’s filing indicates, the FBI agents and DOJ attorney were permitted to visit the storage room,” the DOJ’s legal brief says. “Critically, however, the former President’s counsel explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained.”
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says that any lawyer involved in the false certification should have their own criminal defense attorneys, but he added that one of Trump’s lawyers representing him in an unrelated matter could benefit from legal consultation of her own.
Alina Habba, who has represented Trump in multiple civil matters, may have made herself a witness to the Mar-a-Lago investigation in affidavits that she filed in connection to New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D) civil fraud investigation.
After a Manhattan judge found Trump in contempt for flouting a subpoena, Habba signed a sworn affidavit attesting that she personally searched the former president’s properties for responsive records, including Mar-a-Lago. She said that those searches came up empty and insisted that they were exhaustive.
“On May 5, 2022, I diligently searched each and every room of Respondent’s private residence located at Mar-a-Lago, including all desks, drawers, nightstands, dressers, closets, etc.,” Habba wrote. “I was unable to locate any documents responsive to the Subpoena that have not already been produced to the [Office of the Attorney General] by the Trump Organization.”
The sworn statement helped ultimately persuade a Manhattan judge to cap Trump’s contempt penalty at $110,000 and consider the rest purged, but Mariotti believes the old document could come back to haunt Habba.
“She has, I think, unwittingly made herself a potential witness in the criminal investigation,” Mariotti told Law&Crime in a phone interview. “So if Ms. Habba were my client, I would advise her that she needs to consult with ethics counsel, and I would advise her not to represent the former president in the criminal investigation.”
Alina Habba swore under oath that she “searched each and every room” of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, including “all desks, drawers, closets, etc.” looking for documents.
Unless she lied under oath, she appears to be a witness in the federal criminal investigation of Trump. https://t.co/vzlVcAuT0V
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) August 31, 2022
If Habba encountered the classified documents during her unrelated search of Mar-a-Lago, Mariotti noted, she should not have looked at them because she does not have a security clearance.
Habba did not respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment.
(Image via Habba’s interview on Newsmax)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]