I have mentioned before that I just did not get serial sex abuser Donald Trump’s (SSAT) weird obsession with holding on to the classified documents that ultimately led to his indictment. I can (sort of) understand that he took some with him during his chaotic final days before he left the White. House. But why was he so obsessed with holding on to them even after he was told that he had to return them? What value could they possibly have for him?
But clearly he wanted them very badly, to the extent that he even defied his own lawyer’s advice to hand them over. His lawyer Evan Corcoran warned him that of he did not do so voluntarily, the FBI would get a search warrant from a judge for Mar-a-Lago, and that is precisely what happened. But of course, then SSAT expressed outrage at this utterly predictable outcome.
Cochran’s report of his discussions with SSAT are astonishing.
Former President Trump was warned by his attorney that the FBI could search Mar-a-Lago if Trump refused to comply with a subpoena for classified documents, according to contemporaneous notes reviewed by ABC News.
Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran met with the former president last May at Mar-a-Lago to discuss their response to a subpoena from the Justice Department, which believed Trump was still hanging on to classified documents even after he reluctantly returned 15 boxes.
“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,” Corcoran recalled telling Trump, according to a voice note the lawyer made memorializing the conversation.
Corcoran’s notes indicated Trump repeatedly suggested it might be better if they did not cooperate with the subpoena, insisting he did not want anyone looking through his boxes.
Another Trump lawyer, Jennifer Little, warned Corcoran that Trump would “go ballistic” if he was pushed to comply with the subpoena — “that there’s no way he’s going to agree to anything, and that he was going to deny that there were any more boxes at all,” Corcoran recalled.
Voice memos and other detailed notes by Corcoran were turned over to special counsel Jack Smith after a judge found Trump likely used his lawyer in furtherance of a crime, piercing standard attorney-client privilege.
Corcoran found it hard to get SSAT to even focus on this very serious issue.
When Corcoran joined Trump’s legal team in April last year, the FBI had already launched a criminal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified information. Nearly 200 classified documents had been found in 15 boxes that Trump reluctantly returned to the National Archives “after months of demands,” as the indictment stated.
But Justice Department officials believed Trump was holding onto even more classified documents in other boxes at Mar-a-Lago and refusing to return them — so on May 11, 2022, the Justice Department issued a federal grand jury subpoena demanding the return of any and all classified documents.
Corcoran and another Trump attorney, Jennifer Little, flew to Florida to meet with Trump. “The next step was to speak with the former president about complying with that subpoena,” Corcoran recalled in a voice memo the next day.
But while sitting together in Trump’s office, in front of a Norman Rockwell-style painting depicting Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Trump playing poker, Trump, according to Corcoran’s notes, wanted to discuss something else first: how he was being unfairly targeted.
As Corcoran later recalled in his recordings, Trump continuously wandered off to topics unrelated to the subpoena — Hillary Clinton, “the great things” he’s done for the country, and his big lead in the polls in the run-up to the 2024 Republican presidential primary race that Trump would officially join in November. But Corcoran and Little “kept returning to the boxes,” according to the transcripts.
Corcoran wanted Trump to understand “we were there to discuss responding to the subpoena,” Corcoran said in the memos.
Still, as depicted in Corcoran’s recordings and in the public indictment, Trump repeatedly suggested it might be better if they refused to cooperate.
The indictment says that although Corcoran — who ABC News believes to be “Attorney 1” in the indictment — and Little — believed to be “Attorney 2” — “told Trump that they needed to search for documents that would be responsive to the subpoena and provide a certification that there had been compliance with the subpoena,” Trump still insisted to them, “I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes,” and, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”
The report discusses how SSAT went to great lengths to prevent his own lawyer from seeing the boxes.
Corcoran’s recordings suggest he was told by others that the only location at Mar-a-Lago that contained classified documents was the basement storage room. “I’ve got boxes in my basement that I really wouldn’t want you to go through,” Corcoran recalled Trump telling him.
And sources told ABC News that, when speaking to investigators, Corcoran explained that he checked with many people about where classified documents could be found, and everyone, including Trump, created the impression that any classified documents would be in the boxes in the storage room.
Over the next two weeks, before Corcoran returned to Mar-a-Lago to search for classified documents in the storage room, Trump’s two co-defendants in the documents case, Mar-a-Lago staffers Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, allegedly removed dozens of boxes from the storage room — all “at Trump’s direction” and with the goal “that many boxes were not searched and many documents responsive to the May 11 Subpoena could not be found,” according to the indictment.
Corcoran ultimately found 38 classified documents in the boxes that remained in the storage room, and he handed them over to the FBI, along with a certification — allegedly endorsed by Trump — that the former president had now fully complied with the subpoena.
But when FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago three months later, they found 102 more classified documents in Trump’s office and elsewhere.
There is something about SSAT’s behavior about the boxes and his eagerness to lie to even his own lawyer about “his boxes” that deeply puzzles me, even allowing for the fact that SSAT is a deeply weird person.