Trump employees moved boxes of documents the day BEFORE FBI showed up
Trump employees moved boxes of documents the day BEFORE FBI and prosecutors showed up – and had a ‘dress rehearsal’ for how to remove sensitive papers, new report
- Trump’s staff moved boxes of documents the day before a senior Justice Department lawyer visited Mar-a-Lago, according to Washington Post sources
- The former president’s team had also rehearsed what to do in case the property was raided, the sources said
- The report suggests that the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, is examining Trump’s actions over a wider timeframe than previously thought
Donald Trump’s staff moved boxes of documents the day before a June 2022 visit by Justice Department officials to Mar-a-Lago, according to a new report, and his staff practiced what to do in case the property was searched.
The allegations, reported on Thursday by The Washington Post, support the idea that Trump’s team deliberately concealed information from those trying to regain the documents.
Jack Smith, the special counsel investigating Trump’s handling of classified information, is investigating Trump’s handling of the documents.
In May 2022 a subpoena was issued for the return of the documents, after months of wrangling with the National Archives and Records Administration.
But even before Trump’s office received the subpoena, he had what some officials have dubbed a ‘dress rehearsal’ for moving government documents.
Sources said that the drill was carried out because Trump did not want to hand over the documents, which he considered were his property.
Donald Trump is pictured on Thursday at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia
Trump’s lawyer on Thursday said that the allegations of documents being moved were part of a ‘witch hunt’ designed to derail his presidential campaign
Some of the documents discovered in Trump’s possession during the August 8, 2022 federal raid on Mar-a-Lago
It was previously known that Trump’s team moved some of the files out of the storage area after Trump’s office received a subpoena, in May 2022.
Timeline of the classified documents
May 2021: National Archives realizes some records from Trump’s presidency are missing
December 2021: Archives requests the documents from the former president
January 2022: Archives received 15 boxes of material that had been stored at Mar-a-Lago, some of which were found to contain classified material
February 2022: The matter is referred to the Justice Department. Trump’s team perform a ‘dress rehearsal’, to ready for the possibility of a search for the documents
May 2022: After several back-and-forths with Trump’s legal team, the Justice Department issues a subpoena for additional records they believe to be in the former president’s Florida home
Investigators believe after that subpoena arrived, storage boxes, including some containing classified material, were moved from a Mar-a-Lago storage area, so Trump personally examined some of them
June 2, 2022: Walt Nauta and two employees move documents out of a store room. Hours later, Trump’s lawyers contact the DOJ and say they are welcome to visit and retrieve the documents
June 3, 2022: Three FBI agents and one DOJ attorney go to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the additional material. They were given a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape, containing the documents, according to later court filings. That envelope contained 38 records with classification markings, including five papers marked confidential, 16 marked secret and 17 marked top secret
August 2022: DOJ applied for a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, citing ‘probable cause’ that additional presidential records and records containing classified information remained at Trump’s Florida home. Court papers show that the original search warrant application showed agents believed that ‘evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises’
August 8, 2022: FBI agents raid Mar-a-Lago: They recover 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked secret, 31 marked as confidential, and 11,179 government documents or photographs that had no classification markings
But the precise timing of that activity – the day before the raid – is a significant element in the investigation, sources told The Washington Post.
The documents were moved on June 2.
Hours later on June 2, a lawyer for Trump contacted the Justice Department and said officials there were welcome to visit Mar-a-Lago and pick up classified documents related to the subpoena.
The following day, senior Justice Department lawyer Jay Bratt arrived at Mar-a-Lago with agents.
The June 3 visit by law enforcement officials was to collect material in response to the May 2022 grand jury subpoena demanding the return of all documents with classified markings.
Trump’s lawyers gave the officials a sealed envelope containing 38 classified documents and a signed attestation that a ‘diligent search’ had been conducted for the documents sought by the subpoena – and that all relevant documents had been turned over.
That turned out not to be the case, and on August 8 the highly-unusual step was taken of raiding Mar-a-Lago to seize the outstanding documents.
They found more than 100 additional classified documents, some in Trump’s office and some in the storage area.
Earlier this year Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, testified that he moved boxes at Mar-a-Lago at Trump’s direction after the subpoena was issued. There is video surveillance footage corroborating his account.
Two people helped Nauta, but according to one of their lawyers did not know the details of their task.
John Irving, a lawyer representing one of the two employees who moved the boxes, said the worker did not know what was in them and was only trying to help Nauta, who was using a dolly or hand truck to move a number of boxes.
‘He was seen on Mar-a-Lago security video helping Walt Nauta move boxes into a storage area on June 2, 2022,’ said Irving.
‘My client saw Mr Nauta moving the boxes and volunteered to help him.’
The next day the employee helped Nauta pack an SUV ‘when former president Trump left for Bedminster for the summer.’
The identity of the two people who helped Nauta is not known.
Irving told The Washington Post that his client, a longtime Mar-a-Lago employee, has cooperated with the government and did not have ‘any reason to think that helping to move boxes was at all significant.’
Other people familiar with the investigation confirmed the employee’s role to the paper, and said he has been questioned multiple times by authorities.
At least two dozen people – including Mar-a-Lago staff and those in Trump’s current inner circle – have been subpoenaed in the classified documents investigation, CNN reported in March.
Police are seen outside Mar-a-Lago on April 3 this year. The property was raided in August 2022
Jack Smith has been appointed as a special counsel to investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents
Trump’s spokesman on Thursday said the allegations about the documents being moved were part of a ‘witch hunt’ against Trump, designed to hamper his electoral chances.
‘This is nothing more than a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump that is concocted to meddle in an election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House,’ said Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesman, in a statement.
‘Just like all the other fake hoaxes thrown at President Trump, this corrupt effort will also fail.’
Cheung accused prosecutors of showing ‘no regard for common decency or key rules that govern the legal system.’
He claimed that investigators have ‘harassed anyone and everyone who works [for], has worked [for], or supports Donald Trump.’
Cheung added: ‘In the course of negotiations over the return of documents, President Trump told the lead DOJ official, ‘anything you need from us, just let us know.’
‘That DOJ rejected this offer of cooperation and conducted a raid on Mar-a-Lago proves that the Biden regime has weaponized the DOJ and FBI.’
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