Trump was warned FBI might search Mar-a-Lago for missing secret papers, ex-attorney’s notes claim

Trump is known to have battled with DoJ for months before FBI raided his estate

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 06 September 2023 23:45
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Donald Trump’s own lawyer warned him against fighting the National Archives and Department of Justice over documents he had retained from the White House, but the ex-president chose instead to resist all attempts by authorities for him to turn them over.

That revelation was made by none other than Mr Trump’s former attorney, Evan Corcoran, in voice memos describing his conversations with his client that have since become evidence in the former president’s upcoming trial over allegedly mishandling classified information. Mr Trump has pled not guilty.

In the memos, reviewed via transcript by ABC News, Mr Corcoran describes a conversation between himself, the ex-president, and another Trump legal team member in which Mr Corcoran attempted to persuade his client of the seriousness of the situation.

"We've got a grand jury subpoena and the alternative is if you don't comply with the grand jury subpoena you could be held in contempt,” he described himself telling Mr Trump.

Pressed by his client about what would happed if they simply ignored the subpoena, Mr Corcoran says he then told Mr Trump that he could wind up with FBI agents on his doorstep.

“Well, there's a prospect that they could go to a judge and get a search warrant, and that they could arrive here," Mr Corcoran says he responded.

The transcript is a revealing look at how the ex-president apparently ignored the advice of any and all experts around him when it came to the matter of his White House documents hoard. Like so many other matters, Mr Trump is thought to have surrounded himself with yes-men and rejected the advice of those who challenged his worldview as he decided whether or not to comply with the federal government’s demands for his trove of documents to be returned for review and archiving.

Boxes of papers were found at Mar-a-Lago, including in a bathroom

If true, it could indicate the weakness of Mr Trump’s defence in the case; he is not a trained lawyer, nor has he studied constitutional law to any advanced level. A spokesman for the former president even suggested that the ex-president was hedging his bets on knowing the law better than his attorneys

“[T]hese notes reflect the legal opinions and thoughts of the lawyer, not the client,” Steven Cheung told ABC News.

Mr Trump is accused of mishandling defence documents and even showing off classified secrets to guests as a kind of status symbol; he has denied this, while simultaneously arguing that he had the right to take whatever he wanted at the end of his presidency.

He faces numerous felony counts related to this investigation, and 91 felonies in total amid a wave of criminal investigations that began in the weeks and months after he left office in 2021.

Other than his alleged mishandling of US secrets, he’s accused of crimes in two jurisdictions related to his effort to alter the 2020 election results and others in New York stemming from a supposed hush money scheme with a porn star.

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