Legal experts have suggested there could be significant evidence in the transcriptions of personal audio recordings that a judge has ordered a Donald Trump lawyer to hand over as part of the classified documents investigation.
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Trump defense attorney Evan Corcoran to testify to a grand jury and hand over a number of documents to investigators in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team.
The order arrived after D.C. District Court Judge Beryl Howell supported prosecutors’ arguments that the former president may have used Corcoran’s services to carry out a crime. Howell said in court filings that Corcoran could be made to answer questions under oath while citing what is known as the crime-fraud exception, meaning that the protected attorney-client privilege cannot be invoked if a lawyer and their client are allegedly attempting to cover up or engage in a crime.
Corcoran has previously testified to the classified document grand jury, but declined to answer some questions while citing attorney-client privilege.
The decision came as Trump also faces possible indictment and becoming the first U.S. president to be arrested as part of the Stormy Daniels hush payment probe in New York.
As first reported by ABC News, Howell wrote in sealed filings that Trump may have deliberately misled Corcoran about his retention of classified materials, and ordered Corcoran to hand over a number of documents, including handwritten notes and transcriptions of personal audio recordings.
A number of legal experts have now speculated that there could be damning evidence in these audio recordings that Trump’s lawyer has been forced to hand over to prosecutors.
Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman tweeted: “Not to get too breathless or ahead of myself, but Howell ordered Corcoran to turn over materials inc ‘transcriptions of personal audio recordings.’ Think about what those transcriptions could reveal about an apparently unaware Trump. Could be the smoking gun that brings him down.”
Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, wrote: “The Corcoran evidence seems likely to be the straw that breaks this elephant’s back.”
Tristan Snell, a lawyer and former assistant attorney general for New York state said: “Michael Cohen was Trump’s lawyer—and he secretly made audio recordings of Trump. Evan Corcoran was Trump’s lawyer—did he also secretly make audio recordings of Trump? That’s what may finally bring Trump down—the RECEIPTS.”
Snell added there are three “really big questions” that could be answered by Corcoran’s evidence. “Did Evan Corcoran record his conversations with Trump? Do Evan Corcoran’s notes and transcripts have smoking-gun evidence that Trump intentionally hid the records? Does Evan Corcoran know where the other missing classified records are?”
Corcoran is thought to be a key figure in the classified documents investigation. During a June 2022 FBI visit to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the sought-after materials removed from the White House in January 2021, Trump’s legal team is alleged to have “explicitly prohibited” federal agents from looking inside a storage room at Mar-a-Lago.
Corcoran drafted a statement, signed by fellow Trump attorney Christina Bobb, telling federal investigators that all the classified materials being kept at Mar-a-Lago were returned in June.
The FBI then raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in August 2022 and seized more than 100 classified and top secret documents, including some found in the storage room.
Trump’s team can appeal the Corcoran ruling to the Supreme Court, although it is unclear if they will do so.
Corcoran has been contacted for comment.
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