In two unrelated investigations, two women with unique, first-hand knowledge and information about potential crimes by the former President and his allies are speaking to investigators.
They are Cassidy Hutchinson, who created a media sensation with her revelations during the January 6 hearings, and Christina Bobb, an attorney not well known yet to many. Hutchinson was hailed as a hero for speaking up, while Bobb, well, not so much.
Let’s start with Bobb and then talk briefly about Hutchinson.
Trump’s Custodian of Record Is Speaking to the FBI
In the NARA-Lago case, there came a pivotal moment when the Justice Department’s head of counterintelligence, Jay Bratt, paid a personal visit to the former President and his team at the Florida resort on June 2, 2022.
Bratt wanted to gather up all the unrecovered documents, including many top secret or otherwise classified documents, that Trump had taken with him to Florida but had still failed to return, even after finally delivering 15 boxes to the National Archives and even after a grand jury had subpoenaed him for the rest.
Bratt was handed a Red Weld of documents by Trump’s legal team at the conclusion of his visit as well as a signed declaration from one of Trump’s attorneys, Christina Bobb. That declaration attested, allegedly based on the information that she had been provided, that all of the responsive documents had now been returned.
The FBI is now talking to Bobb directly about that certification, which of course turned out to be wildly untrue. After a warrant issued from a federal judge, the FBI conducted a search of the property in August and recovered some 100 more classified documents.
That search rendered the prior certification by Bobb an outright lie made to federal investigators, and it could form that basis for an obstruction charge. The question now is, who started the lie?
Bobb reportedly informed federal investigators that another lawyer, Evan Corcoran, drafted the certification and instructed Bobb to sign it, but that she agreed to do so only after adding caveats because she herself had not conducted the search.
Specifically, she claims she told Corcoran to amend the certification to add the words, “based upon the information that has been provided to me” and that all documents were being returned after a “diligent” search.
Notably, Bobb executed the document as the “Custodian of Record,” and not as Trump’s attorney. A Custodian of Record is someone whom an organization puts up as the person most knowledgeable about the whereabouts, content, and status of documents.
That person is supposed to be able to answer questions about the completeness of document productions, particularly whether a thorough search has been conducted for any documents responsive to a subpoena.
NOTE: I have deposed many Custodians of Record in my days as a lawyer, and they are key to pinning down whether all documents from a corporation or other entity have been turned over or otherwise logged as privileged. You get to ask them questions about where they searched, and whether they included the offices, files and electronic devices of key individuals, and then follow up with any places they might have missed. Their words and testimony bind the organization legally.
That Bobb was the Custodian of Record and not acting as Trump’s attorney with respect to the documents means Trump’s team can’t easily claim attorney-client privilege over what she knows about the whereabouts of documents or what was actually done to respond to the subpoena.
These are facts that exist separate and apart from any role she played as a lawyer. Seen in this light, designating her as the Custodian was an odd and likely foolish move by the Trump legal team because, as they are now realizing, she has become a fact witness for the FBI on its obstruction investigation, and she doesn’t enjoy the privilege shield from being a lawyer.
A source told NBC News that Bobb was presently cooperating without any immunity deal.
The source said:
“She is not criminally liable."
“She is not going to be charged. She is not pointing fingers."
"She is simply a witness for the truth.”
This may all be spin, however.
Anyone who knowingly participated in the effort to mislead the FBI, including Bobb if she willfully closed her eyes to what was happening, could be guilty of making false statements or obstructing the investigation. And that gives considerable potential leverage to prosecutors.
In any event, it seems likely that the FBI will have its eyes next on Corcoran, who supposedly drafted the initial certification. Did Corcoran conduct the search for documents personally, or was he simply told by someone else—perhaps Trump—that all documents had been produced?
Was he aware that more documents existed in Trump’s office and in the storage room? Who put together the Red Weld file folder, Corcoran or someone else, possibly Trump himself?
These are all questions investigators will want answered. It may take a few court battles to overcome claims of attorney-client privilege, but if Corcoran has any sense of self-preservation, he would be wise to speak with investigators sooner rather than later about what he knows.
Mark Meadows’s Former Aide Is Talking to Georgia DA Fani Willis
Down in Fulton County, District Attorney Fani Willis has been busily and steadily building her case for election interference and election fraud against the Trump campaign.
CNN confirmed yesterday that these preparations include securing the cooperation of Cassidy Hutchinson, who provided riveting personal accounts during the January 6 hearings of what she witnessed in the days leading up to and including January 6. Hutchinson was the top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has been subpoenaed to provide testimony before Willis’ investigative grand jury.
It isn’t clear how much Hutchinson knows about Meadows’s activities around Georgia’s elections in 2020, so it’s important at this time not to get ahead of ourselves.
District Attorney Willis has alleged the following about the “Witness” (Meadows) in her petition to secure his testimony:
“Between at least December 30, 2020, and January 1, 2021, the Witness sent e-mails to United States Department of Justice officials, including Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, making various allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere and requesting that the Department of Justice conduct investigations into these allegations.”
“On January 2, 2021, former President Donald Trump and members of his team, including the Witness, participated in a lengthy telephone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others to discuss allegations of voter fraud in Georgia. An audio recording of the telephone call was widely broadcast."
"During the telephone call, former President Trump stated to Secretary Raffensperger, 'I just want to find 11,780 votes'. The Witness actively participated in and spoke on the call, and the Special Purpose Grand Jury’s investigation has revealed that the Witness was involved in setting up the call.”
Georgia investigators will want to know from Hutchinson whether Meadows spoke to her about the call to Raffensperger and whether she was aware it was taking place. They will also want to know whether she was aware of Meadows’s pressure campaign on the Department of Justice and if she can shed any light on it.
Again, we don’t know if Hutchinson was witness to any of the shenanigans of the Trump Campaign or her former boss in Georgia. But as her prior testimony showed, Hutchinson was keenly observant and had strong recollective abilities with respect to matters she deemed important.
Despite initial off-the-record disputes of her accounts by other witnesses, no one has come forward under oath to testify to matters contrary to her recollection of them. Further, her rapport with Meadows was strong enough to sometimes get him to do the right thing, including not going over in person to join the conspirators at the Willard Hotel on the night of January 5, 2021.
If Hutchinson knows anything about the election crimes and conspiracies around the Georgia elections, then Fani Willis will soon know it, too.