Unsealed Grand Jury Testimony Shows Heated Exchanges With Trump Lawyer

Donald Trump’s lawyer pointedly refused to answer questions about his conversations with the former president, a newly released grand jury transcript shows.

Attorney Timothy Parlatore said, “Are we really doing this?” and accused a Department of Justice lawyer of not following the rules on attorney/client privilege. When he started to tell a DOJ lawyer that she had no right to ask such questions, another government attorney intervened and told him: “Sir, you are the witness today.”

Newsweek sought email comment on Wednesday from Parlatore and from Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche.

A transcript of the tense exchange was unsealed by Judge Aileen Cannon on Tuesday as part of former President Trump’s classified-documents case in Florida. A grand jury is a selection of ordinary people who decide whether charges should be brought against an accused person.

In this case, they agreed that Trump should be charged with 40 federal charges over his handling of sensitive materials retrieved from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, after he left the White House in January 2021. He is accused of obstructing efforts by federal authorities to return them. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges and said repeatedly that the case is part of a political witch hunt to derail his bid for the White House as the GOP candidate.

tim parlatore
Tim Parlatore speaks to members of the media on July 2, 2019 in San Diego, California. The former Trump lawyer had some heated exchanges with government attorneys during grand jury testimony, a newly released transcript…

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

In an FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022, 11,000 presidential records that Trump had not declared were recovered.

A prosecution document filed in court in September 2022 said that the FBI raid uncovered 18 top-secret documents; 54 secret documents; 31 marked as confidential; and 11,179 government documents or photographs that were without classification markings.

Cannon has suspended the case until at least late July while she reviews a series of motions in the case.

Parlatore’s grand jury testimony was taken on December 22, 2022 in a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.

The transcript shows Parlatore’s initial hesitancy in speaking. He uses the phrase “you know” eight times in his first sentence, while describing his work for Trump.

He said he was primarily a criminal defense attorney who advised the former president on DOJ investigations, the January 6 probe and other matters.

Three DOJ lawyers, Julie Edelstein, Brett Reynolds and Anne McNamara, asked him questions before the grand jury.

When Edelstein asks him when he became involved in the classified-documents case, Parlatore replies: “It’s privileged. Which is something that she knows. If- it’s something that every attorney does know.”

Parlatore is also asked: “And if the former president’s cooperative, why hasn’t he allowed you to share his conversations with the grand jury today?”

Parlatore retorts: “Are you- we are really doing this?”

Edelstein replies: “I’ve asked you a question.”

Later, Parlatore took umbrage at a question about Trump potentially lifting his attorney/client privilege, which protects attorneys from having to answer questions about their clients.

“The question you just asked seems to indicate that, for somebody to be cooperative, they should waive their attorney/client privilege, which is absolutely wrong,” Parlatore said.

Edelstein, while she and Parlatore talk over each other, replies: “I’m not here to induce any waivers or attorney/client privilege. I understand my legal obligations.”

Parlatore then asks: “Do you understand that that’s not something that should be even suggested?”

Reynolds then intervenes and tells Parlatore: “Sir, you’re the witness today.”

Edelstein adds: “You’re the witness today and I’ve asked you a question,” to which Parlatore says: “But that’s an improper question.”

Edelstein then tells him: “You made a representation to this grand jury about what was said at a meeting. And I asked you the basis of that representation.”

Parlatore replies: “That’s an improper question. You can’t ask me what the president said to me.”

The testimony ends very shortly afterward, with both sides attempting to be civil. Reynolds thanks Parlatore, who replies: “And thank you. And I apologize if some of the answers were a little bit more convoluted just because of the weird dynamic here, but I appreciate your time. Thank you.”