Judge Beryl Howell agreed with Jack Smith’s prosecutors that Evan Corcoran and Donald Trump’s criminal behavior allowed attorney-client privilege to be pierced in the classified documents investigation. She was upheld by the Court of Appeals, and Corcoran was ordered to testify before Smith’s grand jury. We should have known then that things might get a bit complicated for Trump and his attorney, and that has now proven to be true. Corcoran formally recused himself from representation of Donald Trump in that investigation. The “why” is simple and obvious: Corcoran’s testimony could be detrimental to any defense Trump presents, thus putting him at odds with his former client, which is further explained below.
Because Corcoran was compelled to testify, he had no choice but to leave Trump’s defense team. As Bloomberg reported, ethics rules demand that lawyers who are likely to be witnesses have a clear conflict of interest and can no longer objectively represent that client. Corcoran does still represent Trump in the January 6 insurrection investigation, but who knows how long that will last? He’s likely privy to damaging information in that case as well, though he has not yet been compelled to provide testimony. In the classified documents case, however, because Smith has shown he is going after obstruction charges, Corcoran, as the liaison to the DOJ, likely helped Trump obstruct but was forced to testify. The question, then, becomes whether this is merely a formality or whether this situation is bad for Trump. According to some experts, it looks very bad.
Newsweek reported on what these experts think. Tristan Snell is a former federal prosecutor and is now the managing partner of a private firm. After news of Corcoran’s recusal hit, Snell tweeted: “BIG sign today that the Mar-a-Lago case is headed toward indictments and trial.” Snell reaffirmed that because Corcoran may be a witness, he cannot ethically represent Trump. Andrew Weissmann, another former prosecutor, tweeted: “Was waiting for this-a clear harbinger of charges coming down the pike; you cannot be a lawyer and a witness on a case.” Finally, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, who appeared on MSNBC, said: “This is a long overdue step. It’s been very puzzling to see Evan Corcoran, who knows better, continuing to represent the former president of the United States in a criminal [matter] where Corcoran is a material witness.” According to Vance, Corcoran’s recusal “reflects on the reality of his situation,” “his” meaning Trump.
If there was any doubt before that Jack Smith plans to prosecute Trump, those doubts should be quashed by Corcoran’s recusal. Clearly, criminal charges are coming, which will result in a trial. That impending trial makes it impossible for Corcoran to represent Donald Trump and serve as a witness at the same time. Obviously, we’ll have to wait for the charges to come down to fully understand what’s happening, but this makes clear that charges are coming. Any charges stemming from this investigation will be federal charges, which means any sentence imposed must be served until its end; there is no parole. This would be a fitting end to the Trump saga.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years