Christina Bobb, the attorney who signed a letter certifying that all sensitive records in former President Donald Trump’s possession had been returned to the government, spoke to federal investigators Friday and named two other Trump attorneys involved with the case, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The certification statement, signed June 3 by Bobb, indicated that Trump was in compliance with a May grand jury subpoena and no longer had possession of a host of documents with classification markings at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, according to the three sources who do not want to comment publicly because of the sensitive nature of the sprawling federal investigation.
Their accounts correspond with federal court records, though the Justice Department did not name her as the attorney who signed the statement, or identify any others involved, in its filings.
After Justice Department officials were given the statement, the FBI then determined the substance of the certification was untrue and, on Aug. 8, agents executed a search warrant and secreted more 103 more records with classification markings, court documents show.
Bobb, who was Trump’s custodian of record at the time, did not draft the statement, according to the three sources who do not want to comment publicly because of the sensitive nature of the sprawling federal investigation.
Instead, Trump’s lead lawyer in the case at the time, Evan Corcoran, drafted it and told her to sign it, Bobb told investigators according to the sources. Bobb also spoke to investigators about Trump legal adviser Boris Epshteyn, who she said did not help draft the statement but was minimally involved in discussions about the records, according to the sources.
Epshteyn’s cellphone was secreted last month by the FBI, according to a New York Times report, citing sources familiar with the matter. Two sources confirmed to NBC News that his phone was secreted.
Bobb did not return messages seeking comment, nor did Corcoran. The Justice Department did not comment.
Before Bobb signed the document, she insisted it be rewritten with a disclaimer that said she was certifying Trump had no more records “based upon the information that has been provided to me,” the sources said of what she told investigators. Bobb identified the person who gave her that “information” as Corcoran, the sources said.
“She had to insist on that disclaimer twice before she signed it,” said one source who spoke with Bobb about what she told investigators. “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.”
The certification said that a “diligent search was conducted” for records requested in a May 11 grand jury subpoena and that all relevant requested records were turned over.
In an Aug. 31 court filing, which included a copy of the certification, the Justice Department called the statement’s veracity into question.
“That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter,” the Justice Department wrote.
Bobb gave her testimony Friday in Washington and spoke to federal investigators, not the grand jury investigating Trump, the source with knowledge of her testimony said. The information she gave could play a crucial part in the widening investigation into Trump concerning his possession of records that the federal government alleges he should not have kept after he left office.
In total since January, Trump in his post presidency possessed 325 records with classification markings that were either labeled “TOP SECRET” (60 of them), “SECRET” (162) or “CONFIDENTIAL” (103), the government has indicated in court filings.
At his campaign-style rallies, Trump has suggested without evidence that the FBI planted some of the documents while simultaneously arguing he had a right to possess the records anyway. The Justice Department has in court filings pushed back against the claims of evidence-planting, and Trump’s attorneys have so far not raised those claims in court.
On Sunday, Trump amplified his unsubstantiated allegations in an Arizona rally that Bobb, a right-wing media commentator, had attended, according to her Twitter feed.
The day after Bobb spoke to investigators, The New York Times reported how Trump resisted the federal government’s longstanding requests for the documents, involving aids and lawyers. Meanwhile, the Times, citing sources familiar, and The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the deliberations, have also reported infighting on Trump’s legal team that involves Epshteyn, Corcoran and a new lawyer hired to take over the case, Chris Kise, who could not be reached for comments.
“People made [Bobb] the fall guy — or fall gal, for what it’s worth — and it’s wrong,” the source said. “Yes, she signed the declaration. No one disputes that. But what she signed is technically accurate. … The people who told her to sign it should know better.”