A federal judge refused to hold Former President Donald Trump Friday’s closed-door hearing in the contempt of court case, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Chief Justice Beryl Howell instead pressed the Trump administration and the Justice Department to work together to find a mutually acceptable resolution, sources told CNN.
ABC News First reported The judges urged the groups to settle the matter on their own.
Contempt proceedings against Trump ended after nearly 90 minutes behind closed doors Friday afternoon in a Washington, D.C., court.
CNN observed prosecutors and Trump’s attorneys, including Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Pratt, leaving the courthouse just before 3:30 p.m. ET. The two legal teams met in chambers for Howell, who, according to CNN, was scheduled to consider whether to hold Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena.
No result has been announced publicly.
The judge questioned how Trump’s team could be held in contempt, given the steps taken by Trump’s lawyers to allay Justice Department concerns that Trump’s lawyers may still have records in Trump’s possession, according to sources.
He questioned why lawyers were questioning the need for a custodian of records to certify that Trump’s lawyers had already searched four locations at the Justice Department, found two documents, returned those documents, and certified that all documents had been returned. Investigators, according to two sources.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
When reached for comment, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung sent the same statement released Thursday, saying the former president and his lawyers “will remain open and cooperative in the face of a heavily armed and corrupt witch hunt. Justice.”
A coalition of media organizations, including CNN, asked Howell to allow public access to Friday’s hearing, but the judge denied the request.
Court spokeswoman Lisa Klemm acknowledged Friday’s sealed hearing in a statement, but did not provide more information about what happened.
“This afternoon, the court held a hearing regarding the ongoing and sealed grand jury case. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) and Local Criminal Rule 6.1, this matter remains under seal,” the statement said.
DOJ Tried to discredit Trump and his office for not fully complying with a subpoena following a search of his Mar-a-Lago resort in August. Contempt over subpoenas for documents has become a feature of the court’s turmoil since the former president stepped down.
Had he been held in contempt on Friday, he could have collected a fine.
The actions add to the pressure on Trump as he faces criminal charges Mar-a-Lago documents investigation Conducted by Special Counsel Jack Smith. It also adds another chapter to the fight for federal officials to retrieve government records — especially those containing national security secrets — after Trump’s administration ends.
After the DOJ subpoenaed documents with classified identities in Trump’s possession in May, prosecutors went to court to enforce the grand jury subpoena. The judge ordered the Trump team to accept. That prompted a search by Trump lawyers last month that yielded two more documents with classified markings.
But the Justice Department is still not satisfied with the search and Trump’s side has not confirmed that all the documents have been turned over, CNN previously reported.
This topic and story has been updated with additional improvements.