A lawyer told prosecutors Trump was aware he legally had to comply with a subpoena, ABC reported.
Special Counsel Jack Smith has accused Trump of knowingly hiding classified documents from the FBI.
Trump faces 40 criminal counts on allegations he kept government documents after leaving office.
Former President Donald Trump was made aware of the criminal consequences of lying to the Justice Department about his handling of classified documents soon after he was subpoenaed in the matter last year, according to a new report.
A current lawyer for Trump told federal prosecutors investigating the former president that she explicitly told him he could face criminal charges if he failed to comply with special counsel Jack Smith's subpoena in the Mar-a-Lago documents case and later lied about his cooperation, ABC News reported Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Attorney Jennifer Little, who is representing Trump in his election interference case in Fulton County, Georgia, told Smith's team of investigators earlier this year that the former president "absolutely" understood the warning she gave him about the need to comply with federal prosecutors in the classified documents case, according to the outlet.
Sources told ABC that Little's warning occurred during a key meeting at Mar-a-Lago just days after Trump was subpoenaed in May 2022 over his handling of classified records.
Evan Corcoran, the attorney brought on to help Trump in the documents case, was also present at the meeting, according to the outlet.
The revelation that Little told federal investigators about her warning to Trump offers insight into the assertive accusations Smith made against the former president in his June 2023 indictment.
In the indictment, Smith alleged Trump knowingly defied a federal subpoena when he hid more than 100 classified documents from both the FBI and his own attorneys and later had his legal team certify the opposite.
Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Little also did not immediately respond.
A spokesperson for Smith declined to comment.
According to ABC's sources, Little told prosecutors that during the pivotal May 2022 meeting between Trump and his attorneys, she tried to make clear to the former president that the subpoena he was facing in relation to the documents was different and far more serious than the preceding events in the matter in which the National Archives spent months demanding Trump return records he had taken from the White House.
For nearly a year after Trump left office in January 2021, the National Archives was asking him to return a cache of government documents of which they believed he was in possession.
In January 2022, he finally returned 15 boxes of records which included nearly 200 classified documents, prompting a federal probe into his handling of sensitive records.
The Justice Department subpoenaed him in the matter in May 2022.
During the attorney meeting that same month, Little said she tried to explain to Trump that even if he had previously lied in telling the National Archives he didn't have any additional documents, the consequences for lying once the subpoena was in play were far graver because it necessitated a signed certification, sources told ABC.
At the end of the meeting, Trump apparently agreed Corcoran would return to the Florida resort to search for any remaining classified records in the following days, the outlet reported.
But before Corcoran returned to search a basement storage room, Trump directed his two co-defendants in the case, staffers Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira to remove several boxes from the storage room, Smith alleged in the indictment.
Corcoran later handed over 38 classified documents found in his basement search to the FBI along with a certification that Trump and his team had complied with the subpoena.
Three months later, however, FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago and uncovered 102 additional documents marked classified.
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