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.
The grand jury hearing evidence from the special counsel’s probe into efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election is sitting Thursday at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC.
CNN spotted jurors and a prosecutor working for Smith entering the courthouse this morning. The grand jury, which normally meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, had not been seen inside the federal courthouse since last week.
CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.
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 tells CNN they also expected to discuss the logistics of how a potential indictment and arraignment of the former president would work.
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 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 the handing up of an indictment is a day that pushes back an ultimate trial date.
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.