A top lawyer for former President Donald Trump testified Friday about classified documents he hid at his Mar-a-Lago resort in a major legal breakthrough for prosecutors.
Lawyer Evan Corcoran may have been forced to reveal what Trump told him about the large number of confidential government documents he kept in defiance of a subpoena.
The lead attorney arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington DC around 9 am and left at lunchtime without comment to reporters.
Corcoran was ordered to answer questions from prosecutors without invoking attorney-client privilege after federal appeals court judges ruled that Trump likely tried to use the attorney to lie about the documents.
Prosecutors believe Trump lied to Corcoran into signing a letter to prosecutors stating that the attorneys had conducted a “diligent search” and found no documents covered by the subpoena.
That letter turned out to be an outright lie, leaving Corcoran exposed to significant legal jeopardy if he didn’t have a good reason for making the claims.
If Corcoran has now told the grand jury that Trump falsely told him that all the documents had been returned, legal experts say it would be irrefutable proof that the former president obstructed justice in the documents case.
The grand jury operates in secrecy, so no information about Corcoran’s explosive appearance was immediately released publicly.
Special counsel Jack Smith, a former federal prosecutor from Brooklyn, is investigating Trump’s role in the documents scandal, as well as his effort to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Biden, which culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol.
The investigations are not related to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into money Trump paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.
There is no known time frame for any of the investigations. But analysts believe the push to get Corcoran’s full testimony is a powerful sign that the document investigation is in the final stages.
Trump improperly took hundreds of classified documents when he left the White House in 2021 after being forced to accept that he lost to Biden.
He returned some of the documents when asked by the officials. He returned another lot after the feds got a judge to issue a subpoena.
But Trump defied the subpoena’s demands to return all remaining classified documents. He left some of the documents, including at least one that described the nuclear weapons capability of an unidentified foreign nation, in a basement storage room.
Prosecutors recently tried to question Corcoran about his role in engineering the false statement about the documents, but he invoked attorney-client privilege to refuse to answer.
A high-ranking federal judge ruled last week that the so-called crime fraud exception to attorney-client privilege applies to Corcoran’s discussions on the issue with Trump.
A three-judge panel quickly rejected Trump’s appeal of the order, setting the stage for Corcoran’s appearance. He was also ordered to turn over notes and documents related to his conversations with Trump.