Trump attorney who became a crucial witness against him has departed legal team

Evan Corcoran, an attorney for Donald Trump who became a critical witness in the classified documents case against the former president, no longer represents him, CNN has learned.

According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Corcoran left Trump’s legal team in recent months, a notable departure as the criminal case remains in limbo in south Florida.

Corcoran’s quiet exit from Trump’s orbit could pose a significant issue for the former president, with the potential for prosecutors to call him as a key witness if the case goes to trial. He also was one of the last attorneys on Trump’s defense team to have handled his federal investigations from the beginning, as his legal peril skyrocketed.

Corcoran was brought on to help Trump fend off charges in the classified documents investigation, but instead turned into a central witness after Trump allegedly misled him about the whereabouts of the documents at his Mar-a-Lago club and encouraged him to lie to the Justice Department and withhold those documents.

One year ago, Corcoran was required to appear before a grand jury investigating the case after a district judge ruled he could not use attorney-client privilege to shield notes and memos from investigators about his interactions with Trump, saying that prosecutors met the threshold for the crime-fraud exception for him. The voice memos turned into notes provided a roadmap for prosecutors when they indicted Trump. Corcoran is referred to as “Trump Attorney 1” in that indictment.

If the case goes to trial, Corcoran will likely be a key witness for the prosecution. The case has been mired in delay and unresolved logistical questions for months now.

Corcoran ultimately recused himself from representing Trump in the classified documents case but continued to represent him in other investigations. He personally accompanied the former president when he was arraigned in Washington last August on federal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Corcoran declined to comment to CNN.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told CNN in a statement, “Mr. Corcoran remains on the legal team and is continuing to help fighting the Biden Trial witch-hunts,” adding that “any assertion otherwise is fake news peddled by uninformed sources and untruthful reporting that seeks to leak disinformation and misinformation.”

Corcoran’s departure from the team underscores how those who could ultimately take either of those cases to trial are relatively new to Trump’s legal team. Two other attorneys who were working on those two probes, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, departed last summer. The result is a loss of institutional knowledge from attorneys who were in the throes of the investigations — dealing with subpoenas and communicating with Justice Department lawyers — before they turned into historic indictments.

But it is Corcoran’s role in the classified documents probe that could pose the biggest problem for Trump. According to special counsel Jack Smith, Corcoran’s memos detailed his interactions with Trump and reveal how Corcoran’s client was scheming to undermine a subpoena from prosecutors. At one point, after Corcoran had personally searched for remaining documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump discussed with the attorney what to do with 38 documents marked as classified that Corcoran had found and placed in a Redweld folder.

“Did you find anything? … Is it bad? Good?” Trump allegedly said, according to the indictment.

The two discussed whether the attorney should bring the documents to his hotel room to keep them safe. Trump then reportedly made a “plucking motion” during the conversation, which the Corcoran memorialized as meaning, “OK, why don’t you take them with you to your hotel room and if there’s anything really bad in there, like, you know, pluck it out.”

Brian Butler, a former Mar-a-Lago worker referenced as “Trump Employee Number 5” in the classified documents indictment of Trump, also placed Corcoran at a key moment leading up to the former president’s indictment. During an exclusive interview with CNN, Butler recalled helping — unknowingly — to move boxes containing classified information to the airport at the same time Trump was greeting federal investigators at his property in June 2022.

“I remember seeing this taller guy,” Butler said, “who I now know to be Evan Corcoran. And I saw a bunch of other people, in the living room. I had no clue. I’m just seeing all these people. I have no clue what they’re there for.”

Butler later realized it was a meeting Corcoran and another attorney had with investigators from the FBI. Two months later, the FBI descended upon the property with a search warrant in hand.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at