For several months, Federal District Court in Washington has been ground zero for the Justice Department’s various attempts to deal with the legacy of former President Donald J. Trump.
The courthouse, which sits on Constitution Avenue, is where hundreds of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, have been prosecuted. It is where a grand jury investigated Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents, a case in which charges were ultimately brought in Florida. And it is where a separate grand jury continues to examine the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in a case in which Mr. Trump was recently told that he could soon face an indictment.
On Thursday, two of these legal proceedings collided in an unusual spectacle, as a federal judge hauled the prosecutor leading the election interference investigation out of a grand jury proceeding and summoned him into his courtroom. The judge, Trevor N. McFadden, was apparently upset that the prosecutor, Thomas P. Windom, had kept a lawyer representing a witness in front of the grand jury from appearing on time for the reading of a verdict for a Jan. 6 defendant whom the lawyer was also representing.
While the incident came to an end quickly and seemed to have resulted in little more than a public display of tension, it nonetheless reflected the complexities that have ensued from Mr. Trump’s crowded legal calendar.
The former president has now been indicted in Florida in the classified documents case and in New York City on charges involving hush money payments to a porn star before the 2016 election. He could soon be charged twice more — in Washington and Georgia — in connection with his efforts to tamper with the 2020 election. All of this, unfolding even as Mr. Trump runs again for office, has put enormous strain on everyone involved — from the courts to the lawyers involved in the various legal efforts surrounding him.
The lawyer involved in the episode on Thursday, Stanley Woodward Jr., is among the busiest in Washington these days. Mr. Woodward has worked for several Jan. 6 defendants — including one convicted last year of seditious conspiracy — while also representing Walt Nauta, Mr. Trump’s co-defendant in the classified documents case, and several witnesses embroiled in the Trump-related grand jury investigations.
The events of Thursday began when Mr. Woodward escorted one of his clients, Will Russell, a former aide to Mr. Trump, to his third appearance before one of the grand juries looking into the former president’s attempts to overturn the election.
Mr. Russell, who worked as an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and then went to work for him in his post-presidential office, has been a witness in both that investigation and the one related to Mr. Trump’s retention of classified documents. Investigators also sought information from him in connection with an inquiry into Mr. Trump’s fund-raising off his false claims of widespread fraud affecting the election.
On Thursday, Mr. Russell was asked a series of questions about his interactions with Mr. Trump before the former president’s departure from the White House, according to a person familiar with the appearance. More than once, Mr. Russell got up and left the proceedings to consult with Mr. Woodward after prosecutors asked questions related to his discussions with Mr. Trump, the person familiar with the appearance said.
The problems began when Mr. Russell’s appearance before the grand jury ran long, causing Mr. Woodward to be late for the reading of a bench trial verdict for one of his Capitol riot clients in front of Judge McFadden. The client, Federico Klein, who served as an official in the State Department during Mr. Trump’s administration, was ultimately found guilty of seven felonies, including assaulting the police and obstruction of an official proceeding before Congress.
But before Judge McFadden issued the verdict, he quizzed Mr. Woodward about why he was delayed. When the judge learned that it was because of the grand jury, he sent court officials to summon Mr. Windom, who works for the special counsel, Jack Smith.
When Mr. Windom appeared in the courtroom, Judge McFadden made him sit through a portion of the reading of Mr. Klein’s verdict.
It was only after the verdict was handed down that Judge McFadden conferred with Mr. Windom and Mr. Woodward. But the sidebar conversation was a private one conducted out of earshot of the public.
Mr. Russell’s grand jury appearance was only one indication that Mr. Smith’s team is continuing to investigate election interference even after sending Mr. Trump a so-called target letter saying that he could soon be indicted on at least three charges.
Prosecutors are also trying to schedule a voluntary interview with Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who worked closely with Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, investigating claims of fraud after the election. Mr. Giuliani sat for his own voluntary interview with Mr. Smith’s office last month.
Zach Montague contributed reporting from Washington.