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Trump ignored warnings about FBI presence at Mar-a-Lago

One of the most amazing things about Donald Trump’s classified documents scandal is how easily he could have avoided an indictment. The former president repeatedly received good advice from his lawyers, and if he had followed their advice, this whole mess would have been gone.

But Trump ignored them and now faces precarious consequences.

The latest evidence of his extraordinarily poor judgment comes from a new ABC News report.

In May last year, shortly after the Justice Department subpoenaed former President Donald Trump for all classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property, Trump’s lead attorney at the time, Evan Corcoran, warned the former president in person. , at Mar-a-Lago, that not only did Trump need to fully comply with the subpoena, but that the FBI could raid the estate if he did not, according to Corcoran’s audio notes following the conversation.

According to the report, parts of which were confirmed by NBC News, Corcoran’s memories were “captured in a series of voice memos he wrote on his phone” after speaking to his then-client.

Trump later said it was “shocking” to see the FBI execute a court-approved search warrant at his glorious country club, but there was nothing shocking about it: His own attorney told him the FBI would show up at his door and search the premises. , and a few months later, that is precisely what happened.

Corcoran apparently simplified things for the former president. “There is a possibility that they could go to a judge and get a search warrant, and they could get here,” Corcoran recalled as he warned Trump during their speech at Mar-a-Lago.

Moreover, this is not the first such revelation as part of a larger scandal. Remember that Washington Post report from June?

One of Donald Trump’s new lawyers came up with an idea in the fall of 2022: The former president’s team could try to reach a deal with the Justice Department. The lawyer, Christopher Kise, wanted to quietly go to court to see if he could negotiate a settlement that would prevent the charges, hoping that Attorney General Merrick Garland and the department would want an exit ramp to avoid prosecuting a former president. Kise hopes to “lower the temperature”, he told others, promising a professional approach and the return of all documents.

Trump’s smart move would have been to reply, “Sounds great, let’s do it.” But he didn’t choose the smart way.

Instead, according to the Post’s report, the former president spoke to others – including Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative group Judicial Watch – “who advocated a more pugilistic approach.”

Trump, the article adds, “wasn’t interested” in Kise’s strategy.

The problem, of course, is that Kise’s strategy probably would have worked. We can say this with some certainty because, as we discussed, federal prosecutors let Trump slip on the documents he took but returned. If the former president had returned all Considering the documents he improperly took and cooperated with law enforcement, it’s easy to believe that this whole mess would have gone away.

But Trump preferred to listen to those who said it was better to fight – rather than the lawyers who allegedly kept trying to explain that he would be much better off if he didn’t need to fight. “Trump has repeatedly rejected advice from lawyers and advisers urging him to cooperate,” the article adds.

A person close to Trump who has been involved in dozens of discussions over the documents told the Post, “It was a totally blunt mistake. We didn’t have to be here.

The quote came to mind while reading ABC News’ report on the advice the Republican received from Corcoran.

In response to his indictment in the case, Trump went on a wild rampage, blaming a wide range of perceived villains for being responsible for his dilemma. The former president blamed special adviser Jack Smith. And President Joe Biden. And the Department of Justice. And the media. And Attorney General Merrick Garland. At one point, he even blamed “mutants”, though it wasn’t entirely clear who he was referring to.

But going back to our previous coverage, the obvious problem with the Republican’s lamentations is that he’s stuck in a mess of his own making. No one forced Trump to bring classified documents to a glorified country club. No one twisted his arm, urging him to defy a federal subpoena. No one ordered the former president to show sensitive documents to people without permission, encourage those around him to lie or engage in a clumsy cover-up.

And no one told him to ignore the sound advice of his own lawyers.

This article updates our related prior coverage.