Report: It Sure Sounds Like Trump’s Lawyer Gave the DOJ Evidence He Obstructed Justice!

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Justice Department’s investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, you know that things are not going particularly well for the ex-president. Last month, we learned that special counsel Jack Smith had uncovered  “significant” evidence that the former guy had obstructed justice. We also learned that the National Archives and Records Administration was reportedly set to turn over “16 records that show Trump…had knowledge of the correct declassification process while he was president” and did not responsibly act upon it. And today now brings a new report that the ex-president was expressly told he could not hold onto any classified documents following a subpoena last May from the DOJ—just another bit of counsel he obviously did not take.

The Guardian reports that Smith’s team has obtained approximately 50 pages of dictated notes from Trump attorney Evan Corcoran. These notes reveal that Corcoran advised the ex-president against retaining any government documents after the subpoena was issued (according to CNN, Trump point-blank asked if he could fight the DOJ’s attempt to take back the documents). They also show that Corcoran told Trump’s longtime valet, Walt Nauta, “about the subpoena before he started looking for classified documents because Corcoran needed him to unlock the storage room.” (As a reminder, Nauta is the Trump aide who was seen on camera moving boxes at Mar-a-Lago both before and after the May subpoena; perhaps crucially, people familiar with the matter have either said that Nauta outright told investigators that he was moving the boxes at Trump’s behest, or that he merely implied it.) Corcoran’s notes also reportedly describe “how Nauta had offered to help him go through the boxes” as well as “Trump’s facial expressions and reactions whenever they discussed the subpoena”—the details of which apparently “irritated Trump,” who only found out about them after the Smith’s team obtained them.

During his search in June, Corcoran uncovered approximately 40 classified documents in the Mar-a-Lago storage room, and then had fellow Trump attorney Christina Bobb sign a written statement saying everything had been turned over to the government. However, the FBI’s August raid—which turned up an additional 101 classified documents—showed that this was obviously untrue. (Bobb had insisted on adding the caveat “to the best of my knowledge,” which does not change the fact that the statement was incorrect, and there were still many documents at the Palm Beach resort.)

As The Guardian notes, “the previously unreported warning conveyed to Trump by…Corcoran could be significant in the criminal investigation surrounding Trump’s handling of classified materials given it shows he knew about his subpoena obligations.” They add to other evidence obtained by Smith that Trump appeared to know exactly what he was doing—and why he wasn’t supposed to be doing it—both when he took the documents in question out of the White House and when he decided to hold onto them in violation of the subpoena. (On May 24, NARA is scheduled to hand over more than a dozen records to Smith showing “whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records.”)

Corcoran did not respond to The Guardian’s request for comment. A spokesperson for Trump previously called the criminal investigation “nothing more than a targeted, politically motivated witch-hunt against President Trump that is concocted to meddle in an election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House.” Anyway, you can probably understand why the ex-president would like to defund the DOJ in a second term.

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