Voice Memo Drama: Trump’s Attorney in Spotlight for Classified Papers Probe
Attorney’s Voice Memo Gives Glimpse into Trump’s Document Handling Investigation
When attorney M. Evan Corcoran turned on his iPhone last year and recorded his thoughts about representing former President Donald J. Trump in a classified documents investigation, he likely never imagined the significant role that recording would play. The probe focuses on Trump’s handling of sensitive materials, and Corcoran’s voice memo provides a rare insight into a lawyer’s private dealings with a high-profile client like the former president. Typically, such a recording would be protected by attorney-client or work-product privilege.
Crime-Fraud Exception Causes Privilege to be Overruled
However, in a surprising turn of events, Federal Judge Beryl A. Howell ordered Corcoran’s recorded recollections to be handed over to the special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the investigation. This decision pierced the privilege that would have normally protected Corcoran’s account of his interactions with Trump. The crime-fraud exception, a provision that allows prosecutors to work around attorney-client privilege if they suspect that legal advice or services were used to further a crime, was invoked.
Corcoran’s Detailed Account May Play a Central Role in the Investigation
The detailed notes from Corcoran’s recording have not been previously described in such detail and are likely to become crucial as Smith and his team work towards concluding their investigation. This information could serve as evidence in a courtroom if a criminal case is ultimately filed and goes to trial. The level of detail in the recording has reportedly angered and unnerved close aides to Trump, who are concerned it contains direct quotes from sensitive conversations.
A Glimpse into Trump’s Handling of Classified Documents
Corcoran’s account provides a glimpse into Trump’s handling of classified documents, from his initial meeting with Trump in May last year to discuss a Justice Department subpoena seeking the return of all classified materials in the former president’s possession, to a search conducted by Corcoran in June at Mar-a-Lago in response to the subpoena. The attorney carried out the search in preparation for a visit by prosecutors, who were on their way to enforce the subpoena and collect any sensitive material found remaining at the property.
Trump’s Interactions with His Attorney May be Crucial to the Investigation
The recording describes an early meeting between Trump and Corcoran at Mar-a-Lago, where the attorney informed the former president that he must comply with the subpoena. This exchange could be crucial to prosecutors as they gather evidence on whether Trump sought to obstruct the subpoena process and interfere with the government’s broader efforts to retrieve all of the sensitive records he took with him from the White House. However, people close to Trump argue that the conversation could be read in a more favorable light as a client merely asking his lawyer about how he should proceed.
Uncovering the Truth about Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago
According to Corcoran’s account, the attorney conducted a search of a Mar-a-Lago storage room in an effort to comply with the subpoena’s request for documents. He subsequently handed over more than three dozen documents to Justice Department officials and drafted a letter stating that a diligent search had not found any more. However, when F.B.I. agents descended on Mar-a-Lago with a court-approved search warrant in August, they found classified documents not only in the basement storage room but also in Trump’s office.
What Happens Next in the Investigation?
The question of who moved boxes into and out of the storage room and why has become central to Smith’s investigation. Prosecutors have focused much of their attention on Walt Nauta, an aide to Trump, and Carlos Deoliveira, a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago. The special counsel’s team is also looking into whether there were efforts to interfere with the government’s attempts to obtain security camera footage from Mar-a-Lago that could shed light on how the documents were stored and who had access to them.
As the investigation continues, Corcoran’s notes provide a unique window into the inner workings of the Trump team’s handling of classified documents, and the role they may play in any potential criminal charges remains to be seen.
Story at www.nytimes.com – 2023-06-03 17:16:32
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