A key element of obstruction of justice charges against indicted former President Donald Trump are recordings from his attorney Evan Corcoran, a partner at the Baltimore firm of Silverman Thompson.

It’s been previously reported that Corcoran took detailed notes and made recordings summarizing his interactions with Trump, and that they had been obtained under court order by the special counsel investigating the mishandling of classified documents. But, with Trump’s indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Florida, it’s clear Corcoran’s material forms the basis for some of the charges against him.

Before giving a folder of documents to federal authorities in response to the subpoena, Trump told Corcoran he should go to his hotel and look at it, then made a plucking motion to take certain things out “if there’s anything really bad in there,” the indictment says.

“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?” Trump asked Corcoran, as well as saying: “Well, look, isn’t it better if there are no documents?”

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Steve Silverman, managing partner of the Silverman Thompson firm, declined to comment except to say: “Evan’s ethics are beyond reproach.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican front-runner in 2024, is facing a 37-count federal indictment for willful retention of national defense information, obstruction, conspiracy and other offenses — an unprecedented event in American history. The case centers around classified documents he took when he left the White House. He says he has done nothing wrong and that the investigation is a hoax.

The documents included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack, according to the indictment. It shows photos of boxes stacked in a ballroom accessible to members of his Mar-a-Lago club, a bathroom and shower, his bedroom and a storage room.

“The most damning evidence in the indictment are Trump’s statements to his own attorney, presumably Evan Corcoran,” former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Renato Mariotti wrote on Twitter. “Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s ruling that invoked the crime-fraud exemption was a clear difference maker in this case.”

Corcoran is a former federal prosecutor and joined Silverman Thompson in March 2021 after almost four years as managing director of a global investment company. The firm has been involved in many high-profile cases in Baltimore, including representing former Mayor Catherine Pugh in the “Healthy Holly” scandal and two victims of the Gun Trace Task Force, who received a $7.9 million settlement from the city after it was revealed drugs were planted on them.

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Corcoran was brought on to Trump’s legal team in April 2022 by adviser Boris Epshteyn, introducing him on a call with other Trump lawyers and recommending him to Trump, who hired him sight unseen, the Washington Post reported. In February, the New York Times reported the firm had received $1.3 million from Trump’s Super PAC for legal fees.

Corcoran also represented Steve Bannon in his 2022 trial for contempt of Congress over his refusal to testify before the House January 6 Committee.

Corcoran recorded voice memos of his interactions with Trump, which Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team obtained under court order after a judge determined that typical attorney-client or work-product privilege should be set aside under the “crime-fraud exception,” which allows prosecutors to inspect attorneys’ materials if they believe legal advice was used in furthering a crime. He testified before a grand jury in Florida on March 24.

Corcoran, described as “Attorney 1″ in the indictment, is mentioned in seven pages of the indictment’s narrative and four of the 37 counts against the former president.

“The manner and means by which the defendants sought to accomplish the objects and purpose of the conspiracy included, among other things … suggesting that Trump Attorney 1 falsely represent to the FBI and grand jury that Trump did not have documents called for by the May 11 Subpoena; moving boxes of documents to conceal them from Trump Attorney 1, the FBI, and the grand jury; [and] suggesting that Trump Attorney 1 hide or destroy documents called for by the May 11 Subpoena,” the indictment says.

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Smith, the special counsel, said Friday afternoon: “We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone. Applying those laws, collecting facts, that’s what determines the outcome of an investigation. Nothing more and nothing less.”

Former Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who has opposed Trump, said in a tweet: “Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but Trump said it best in 2016: ‘Extreme carelessness with classified material’ and a ‘cover-up that includes false statements and lies’ is ‘totally disqualifying’ for the presidency.

“Our party has a clear choice to make: do we want to spend the next election making the case against Joe Biden’s presidency, or do we want to spend it defending Trump’s indefensible behavior in multiple prosecutions?”

justin.fenton@thebaltimorebanner.com

Justin Fenton is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner. He previously spent 17 years at the Baltimore Sun, covering the criminal justice system. His book, "We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption," was released by Random House in 2021 and became an HBO miniseries. 

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