It was reported days ago that Federal Judge Beryl Howell had ruled that Donald Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran had to testify to the grand jury about an incriminating phone call that took place between them with regard to Jack Smith’s classified documents probe. Now the details of that ruling are surfacing, and it turns out the judge has given Smith the greenlight all around. It also places the case in an entirely new light.
When the ruling first came down, it was widely presumed that Trump and Corcoran allegedly conspired together to commit obstruction of justice by hiding classified documents from the federal investigators who were seeking them. But now ABC News is reporting that Jack Smith is alleging that Trump misled his attorneys about the classified documents in an effort to hide them from federal investigators. Further, Corcoran is being ordered to testify about the phone call in which Trump misled him about the documents.
This means Corcoran isn’t an alleged co-conspirator who’s being pressured into flipping on Donald Trump. He’s a witness to Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes, who’s being forced to testify against Trump because attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply when the attorney witnesses the client committing additional crimes in the name of trying to cover up the crime being investigated.
This also helps explain why the judge turned over a number of Corcoran-related records to Jack Smith. Judge Howell wouldn’t have made this ruling based merely on taking anyone’s word for it. She had to have seen evidence to corroborate the Trump-Corcoran phone call really was what it’s alleged to be. And now she’s given that evidence to Smith, because he’ll need to present it to the grand jury alongside Corcoran’s testimony against Trump. Prosecutors always want to present supporting evidence and documents in any given situation, so that the grand jury doesn’t merely have to take the witness’ word for it.
Notably, Judge Howell wrote that Jack Smith had made a “prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations.” In other words the judge is saying that there is already enough evidence of Trump’s guilt to justify putting Corcoran and the supporting evidence in front of the grand jury.
So what happens next? Trump may try to appeal this ruling, but he won’t win, and he’s unlikely to buy himself any meaningful amount of time by appealing. More to the point, yesterday CNN reported that Evan Corcoran and his lawyer were spotted entering the federal courthouse. So whatever is playing out here, it’s advancing quickly. And once Corcoran does testify to the DOJ grand jury, that should complete the obstruction of justice criminal case against Donald Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report