“Shocked at the stupidity”: Prosecutors obtain lawyer notes that blow up Trump’s Mar-a-Lago defense

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has obtained lawyer notes showing that former President Donald Trump was warned that he could not keep any classified documents in response to a subpoena he failed to comply with last year, according to The Guardian.

Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran, who was ordered to testify before a grand jury by a judge after prosecutors pierced his attorney-client privilege claims, conveyed the previously unreported warning to the former president last year, according to the report. The warning “could be significant” in Smith’s probe because it shows that he was aware of his subpoena obligations, according to the report.

“Trump knew. He’s always known,” tweeted MSNBC legal analyst Katie Phang.

The warning was included in about 50 pages of contemporaneous notes written by Corcoran.

Corcoran in June found about 40 classified documents in a Mar-a-Lago storage room. He met with Justice Department investigators and later drafted a letter affirming that no other materials were at the property. But the FBI later found about 100 more classified documents while executing a court-authorized warrant in August.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Trump intentionally sought to obstruct the subpoena. They have particularly “fixated” on Trump valet Walt Nauta, who told prosecutors that Trump personally told him to move boxes out of the storage room before and after the subpoena was issued.

Corcoran’s notes “revealed how Trump and Nauta had unusually detailed knowledge of the botched subpoena response, including where Corcoran intended to search and not search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as when Corcoran was actually doing his search,” according to The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell.

Though prosecutors are typically barred from reviewing attorney notes, Corcoran’s attorney-client privilege claims were pierced after a judge agreed with prosecutors that Trump may have used Corcoran’s legal services to further a crime.

The notes described how Corcoran told Nauta about the subpoena ahead of the search because he needed him to unlock the storage room, which prosecutors have taken a sign that the aide was closely involved in the search, according to the report. Corcoran also wrote that Nauta offered to help him go through the boxes, though the attorney declined.

Corcoran’s notes also revealed that the search took several days and there were times when the storage room may have been left unattended during the search, according to the report.

Prosecutors would need to show that Trump instructed Nauta to remove boxes he expressly knew included classified documents covered by a subpoena with the intention of hiding them from his attorney’s search, the report noted.

Trump’s attorneys have argued that the subpoena response is incomplete because Corcoran was not as thorough as he should have been because he delayed the search and did not realize how many boxes were in the storage room.

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The DOJ interviewed Nauta last year and believed that he was not forthcoming about his account of moving the boxes. Prosecutors threatened to charge Nauta with lying to the FBI after he gave contradictory answers but Nauta stopped cooperating with prosecutors after his lawyer demanded an immunity deal. Prosecutors have since asked other witnesses about what Nauta did with the boxes, according to the report.

“This is 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,” a Trump spokesperson told The Guardian.

MSNBC host Mike Brzezinski interviewed Lowell about his report, noting that “every time I read into this, I’m just shocked at the stupidity of those, honestly, of former President Trump, moving documents in and out of his office before and after the subpoena, and I guess having people do it for him.”

Lowell explained that the previously unreported warning is a “problem for the former president.”

“And it becomes a problem for his legal team and there’s a whole bunch of other stuff in the notes about how the valet had unusually detailed knowledge about where the lawyer was conducting his searches for classified documents,” he told MSNBC, “and I think the special counsel’s office is looking at this as the core, the heart of the obstruction investigation.”

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