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New chief judge oversees Trump grand juries as courts face partisan tests

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New chief judge oversees Trump grand juries as courts face partisan tests

Story by Spencer Hsu • Yesterday 6:00 AM

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The chief federal judge in Washington overseeing potentially historic, behind-closed-doors disputes in grand jury investigations involving former president Donald Trump and his political allies passed the gavel to her successor Friday, handing off leadership of the high-profile court in the nation’s capital.

New chief judge oversees Trump grand juries as courts face partisan tests© Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post

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Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell is hardly a household name, though her rulings in the politically charged cases in her court could be consequential.

Her successor, James E. Boasberg, may be even less well known outside of Washington, but now will decide how far special counsel Jack Smith can go in investigating or questioning the former president. Among his most consequential decisions: whether Smith can compel former vice president Mike Pence to testify before a grand jury investigating Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election.

In recent months, the federal courthouse in D.C. has been buzzing with secret and not-so-secret proceedings over whether White House aides or Trump lawyers can be similarly made to testify, and whether records of a member of Congress can be used by the Justice Department. In addition to exploring attempts to interfere in the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election, Smith is leading a criminal investigation into whether the former president or his allies mishandled classified documents. Howell at least partially granted a request from prosecutors to force Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to testify before the grand jury in the documents case, two people briefed on the decision said Friday.

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