BALTIMORE — Despite once calling Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” former President Donald Trump has turned to a Charm City lawyer to aid his defense as the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal probe into him continues.
Trump hired attorney M. Evan Corcoran, a partner at the Inner Harbor firm Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, earlier this year, and Corcoran is one of the key figures in the former president’s battle over hundreds of classified and top-secret papers FBI agents seized from his Florida country club earlier this month.
A May 10 letter from acting U.S. archivist Debra Steidel Wall to Corcoran revealed Trump took more than 700 pages of documents, including papers with information about covert intelligence operations, with him to Florida after leaving the White House in January 2021. Some of the documents, Steidel Wall wrote, were of the “highest levels of classification.”
A criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, Corcoran was the trial lawyer for the insurance company in a $4 billion case following the World Trade Center collapse, according to his biography page on the law firm’s website. He represented defense contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton when it was under scrutiny from federal regulators. He also represented corporate officials in U.S. Department of Justice cartel investigations, helping them avoid criminal charges, his biography says.
Corcoran also represented Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist, in the contempt of Congress case against him, where prosecutors said Bannon willfully ignored a congressional subpoena to testify. Corcoran did not mount a significant defense, and Bannon was found guilty.
Now Corcoran represents Trump, along with D.C. attorney James Trusty. The Washington Post reported Wednesday Corcoran accepted the job as Trump’s attorney in April without ever meeting him, and after being introduced on a conference call.
Corcoran did not return a request for an interview, and Steven Silverman, managing partner for the firm, declined to comment for this story.
Corcoran’s LinkedIn profile biography is short and simple, reading: “I work to achieve justice.”
Other outlets have reported Trump had difficulties finding attorneys willing to represent him, and former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who helped lead the administration’s response to Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s possible campaign ties to Russia, said the former president can be a difficult client to have.
“It’s not a news flash that representing the former president is a challenge,” Cobb told The Baltimore Sun.
However, Cobb said Trump’s current lawyers seem sufficient.
“Evan Corcoran and Jim Trusty are highly experienced former prosecutors at home in a courtroom,” Cobb said. “They are certainly capable of assisting the former president in current circumstances.”
Baltimore attorney William “Billy” Murphy, founding partner of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, said the reasons attorneys take on difficult and unpopular clients are varied, but that having one is essential to the criminal justice system. The former president has not been charged with a crime.
“There are lots of good reasons why a lawyer would represent someone extraordinarily unpopular,” Murphy said. “Implicit in the problem about people representing unpopular folks is the notion that unpopular folks don’t deserve a lawyer, and if they get one it ought to be a bad one.”
The challenge with representing Trump is getting him to act in ways that support his own best interests, Cobb said. During his time as a White House lawyer, Cobb said he and the then-president spoke daily, and that part of his condition of employment was that Trump ease off on criticizing former special counsel Mueller during his investigation.
Former U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr did not charge Trump with a crime, based on the position a sitting president could not be charged with a crime. Cobb said he knew months before the Justice Department released its heavily redacted report in 2019 that Trump wouldn’t be charged with anything.
On Wednesday a judge ordered the department to release the fully un-redacted report.
While Trump complied with Cobb for a while, it can be difficult to muzzle a man who loves grabbing headlines.
“My own experience suggests that if you can collaborate and vet desired public statements and have some input into strategically whether they’re helpful to the cause at hand … you really have to speak up when something puts your client at greater jeopardy than they need to be,” Cobb said.
Cobb said he didn’t know if he would agree to represent Trump again, adding that he wasn’t asked to help in Trump’s current fight.
“There is a lot of evidence of concern, but I am a firm believer that everybody deserves a lawyer,” Cobb said. ”I would like to think in our country people would agree that, if not for the man himself, than just for the position he held it’s imperative he had good representation.”
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