Donald Trump’s lawyer says he was prevented from searching for classified documents in the former president’s office at Mar-a-Lago, where the FBI later found the most sensitive materials kept at the resort.
Evan Corcoran found 38 classified documents in the estate storage room last June following a Department of Justice subpoena, and he told the department that that was all there was to be found. The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago two months later and seized 101 additional classified documents, including from Trump’s office. The documents found in the office were some of the most highly classified of the entire batch.
Corcoran told associates that several Trump aides told him all materials brought from the White House after Trump left were kept in the storage room, so he only needed to search there, The Guardian reported Tuesday. Corcoran said he asked whether he should search the office too, but was sent away from the room and never allowed to search it.
Corcoran did not specify who steered him away from the office, whether it was Trump himself or an aide. A Trump spokesperson has denied the allegation. But The Guardian points out that Corcoran’s new account suggests he was intentionally misled about the documents.
This wouldn’t be the first time Trump or one of his allies misled his own legal team about the documents. A judge ruled in March that some of Trump’s attorney-client privileges could be “pierced,” after prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team found that Trump intentionally misled his own lawyers, including Corcoran, about keeping classified materials when he left office.
U.S. Judge Beryl Howell ordered Corcoran to comply with a grand jury subpoena for testimony on six different lines of inquiry. She also ordered him to hand over records of Trump’s alleged “criminal scheme,” including handwritten notes, invoices, and transcriptions of personal audio recordings.
Some of those notes revealed that Corcoran had warned Trump about needing to comply with the Justice Department’s subpoenas. The notes reveal that Trump and his valet, Walt Nauta, knew exactly where and when Corcoran was planning to search for the documents at Mar-a-Lago. Nauta had previously testified that Trump asked him to move boxes out of the storage room both before and after the subpoena was issued.
According to Corcoran’s notes, Nauta had offered to help him look through the boxes in the storage room, which Corcoran declined. But Corcoran took breaks during the multiday search, leaving the storage room unattended multiple times. The Guardian reported that it is possible prosecutors are investigating whether Nauta knew exactly what was in the boxes he was moving.
In addition to Smith’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents and role in January 6, the former president is also under investigation in Georgia for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. He has been indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels.