When the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Florida Man cave in August 2022, America’s 45th pr*sident and reigning doofus emeritus took to his vanity social media platform, Goof Social, to call it a “shocking BREAK-IN.” Well, it couldn’t have been that shocking, considering one of his lawyers had long warned him it would happen if he persisted in his (allegedly!) criminal ways.
According to contemporaneous voice memos recorded by Trump attorney Evan Corcoran, in May 2022, Trump was told he would need to comply with a federal subpoena requiring the return of classified documents held at Mar-a-Lago, and that if he didn’t, the feds might end up searching the property.
But it was clear that Trump was in no mood to follow the law. Shortly after Corcoran warned Trump about the potential raid, another Trump attorney warned Corcoran that if he pressured Trump to comply, “he’s just going to go ballistic.”
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According to a new report from ABC News, which reviewed transcripts of Corcoran’s voice recordings, Corcoran and fellow Trump attorney Jennifer Little flew to Florida to meet with Trump after the Justice Department issued its May 11 subpoena demanding the return of any remaining classified documents. “The next step was to speak with the former president about complying with that subpoena,” Corcoran said in one voice memo.
But Trump had different plans—as he usually does when normal human beings are giving him sensible advice.
But while sitting together in Trump's office, in front of a Norman Rockwell-style painting depicting Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Trump playing poker, Trump, according to Corcoran's notes, wanted to discuss something else first: how he was being unfairly targeted.
As Corcoran later recalled in his recordings, Trump continuously wandered off to topics unrelated to the subpoena -- Hillary Clinton, "the great things" he's done for the country, and his big lead in the polls in the run-up to the 2024 Republican presidential primary race that Trump would officially join in November. But Corcoran and Little "kept returning to the boxes," according to the transcripts.
Corcoran wanted Trump to understand "we were there to discuss responding to the subpoena," Corcoran said in the memos.
Imagine trying to keep Trump on-topic without the help of a CIA rendition team and a pony keg full of elk tranquilizer. Does he really think bringing up Hillary Clinton whenever he’s charged with a fresh felony is a masterful legal strategy? And what’s with that painting? No ex-president, dead or alive, would ever want to be seen with Trump, much less play cards with him. One look at Trump and George Washington might even regret ever thinking about revolution, and Martin Van Buren’s sideburns would instantly flare like the neck frill on that “Jurassic Park” dinosaur that ate Newman.
Meanwhile, even as Trump’s lawyers were warning him of the dire consequences of noncompliance, our erstwhile toddler-in-chief kept scheming to hide his stolen stash.
As related by ABC, Corcoran told Trump, “We've got a grand jury subpoena and the alternative is if you don't comply with the grand jury subpoena you could be held in contempt.” To that, Trump allegedly responded, according to both Corcoran’s notes and the federal indictment against him, “What happens if we just don't respond at all or don't play ball with them?” In response, Corcoran issued a stark warning: “Well, there's a prospect that they could go to a judge and get a search warrant, and that they could arrive here.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers appeared to be aware that they had what might be charitably described as an “unconventional” client.
- Another Trump lawyer, Jennifer Little, warned Corcoran that Trump would "go ballistic" if he was pushed to comply with the subpoena — "that there's no way he's going to agree to anything, and that he was going to deny that there were any more boxes at all," Corcoran recalled.
- The indictment against Trump unsealed in June alleges he went on to mislead Corcoran about the location and number of documents in his possession, including by allegedly directing Mar-a-Lago employees to move boxes from the storage room Corcoran was set to search.
The big picture: Voice memos and other detailed notes by Corcoran were turned over to special counsel Jack Smith after a judge found Trump likely used his lawyer in furtherance of a crime, piercing standard attorney-client privilege.
All of that jibes with claims made in the federal indictment, which quotes Trump as saying, in response to Corcoran’s insistence that Trump comply with the subpoena, “I don't want anybody looking through my boxes," and, "Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here?”
That’s a pretty strange reaction from someone who clearly took documents that didn’t belong to him—and that he likely didn’t understand anyway. Does anyone really think Trump has a keen, abiding interest in hypothetical Iranian invasion plans? Maybe if he’d stolen Lyndon Johnson’s dry-rubbed ribs recipe, one might be more inclined to believe he was holding onto this stuff for his memoirs. Otherwise, it's all kind of fishy, especially considering his well-documented greed and his weird fetish for murderous war criminals like Vladimir Putin.
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Meanwhile, the recordings appear to support the accusation that Trump was deceiving his own attorneys. According to ABC News, the recordings suggest that Corcoran was told the only place where classified documents were stored was the basement at Mar-a-Lago, and that “everyone, including Trump, created the impression that any classified documents would be in the boxes in the storage room.”
As we now know, according to a superseding indictment filed against Trump, his two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, allegedly removed boxes from the basement “at Trump’s direction” so that “many boxes were not searched and many documents responsive to the May 11 Subpoena could not be found.” Corcoran would later find dozens of classified documents in the storage room. He gave them to the FBI with a certification claiming Trump had fully complied with the subpoena, but—say it in your best Ron Howard narrator voice now—Trump didn’t.
Trump clearly thinks he’s above the law—and he’s going to test that notion in November 2024. If the hellmouth opens and expectorates another four-year Trump term, he’ll make these charges magically go away—and will likely seek to prosecute the very people who had the temerity to hold him accountable in the first place. Until then, his strategy appears to be to publicly pretend that the Presidential Records Act gave him the authority to steal government secrets when, in fact, the polar opposite is true. But who cares about the actual law when people keep telling you you’d make a great dictator?
So that’s what’s at stake in 2024. Will the powerful be held accountable, or will they rain vengeful terror down on the rest of us? Could go either way—if too many of us stay on the sidelines or get seduced by a third-party candidate, that is.
Stay tuned. And better yet: Get back in the game now, by helping GOTV for the important elections this November.
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.