Trump Lawyer Refused Trump’s Request to Say All Documents Were Returned

One of former President Donald Trump’s lawyers refused his request in February to say that he had returned all of the documents taken to Mar-a-Lago, according to The Washington Post.

In February Trump asked Alex Cannon, Trump’s attorney, to tell the National Archives and Records Administration all documents had been returned. Cannon refused the request because “he was not sure that statement was true,” sources told the Post. The FBI ultimately found thousands more documents when they searched Trump’s residence in August as part of a criminal investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents and obstruction.

Cannon “facilitated” the transfer of 15 boxes of documents to the National Archives earlier this year after officials demanded for over a year for the return of “all original presidential records” as required by law. According to the report, National Archives officials threatened to involve Congress or the Justice Department.

A source said that Trump himself packed the boxes. Post, and “seemed determined” in February to declare that all documents had been returned. Trump told his team to release a public statement declaring that he had returned “everything” and asked Cannon to make a similar statement to the National Archives. According to the report Cannon refused the request. He was an attorney for Trump Organization, and later, the Trump campaign.

Cannon told others that he was “not sure” if there may be additional documents and that he would be “uncomfortable” making such a claim, according to the Post. Other Trump advisers encouraged him to not make such a statement. Trump’s team ultimately did not release the public statement either, instead releasing a different message three days later saying that the materials were turned over in a “friendly” manner without saying that “everything” had been returned.

“The papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis, which is different from the accounts being drawn up by the Fake News Media,” Trump said at the time.

Legal experts warned that Trump could be in trouble if the report is published.

“DOJ case for obstruction against Trump (18 USC 1519) just got a lot stronger,” tweetedRyan Goodman is a New York University law professor.

“More evidence of willful retention and concealment,” wroteBradley Moss is a national security attorney

“Open and shut,” tweetedGeorge Conway, conservative attorney

Cannon’s refusal to make the statement “soured his relationship” with Trump, for whom he had worked since 2015, and he was shut out of further discussions about the matter, according to the Post.

In May, the DOJ obtained a grand jury subpoena to all classified documents. The DOJ found more evidence that additional documents were at Mar-a-Lago. Cannon’s former lawyer Evan Corcoran told the DOJ he had returned all classified material. Christina Bobb, another Trump lawyer, signed a document affirming she was informed all documents were returned.

The FBI obtained a warrant for search of the premises and discovered thousands more documents. Bobb has been since retained her own attorneyCorcoran was reportedly urged by colleagues to do the same, citing the legal vulnerability of their colleagues after they made statements to the DOJ.

Cannon’s “decision not to lie on Trump’s behalf appears to be one of the only smart decisions made by his legal team this year,” tweeted former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.

Mariotti said that Trump’s request for his lawyer to “lie” to the National Archives is “a crime if done knowingly and willfully.”

“More likely it will be used by DOJ to show an intent to hide and deceive. Would be a factor in favor of indictment and would be featured at trial,” he wrote.

“If this reporting holds up,” wrote former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance White, “his conduct would have been so egregious that DOJ will have to indict to maintain the rule of law — anyone else would be indicted, he must be too.”