Trump Aide Was Seen on Security Footage Moving Boxes at Mar-a-Lago
A longtime aide to former President Donald J. Trump was caught on camera moving boxes out of storage rooms at Trump’s private club and Florida residence both before and after. when the Justice Department issued a subpoena in May asking for its return. of all classified documents in the possession of the former president, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The footage shows Walt Nauta, a former military aide who worked in the White House and left with Mr. Trump to work at his Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, moving boxes in spots. different from the storage room that later became the focus of the Justice Department investigation, according to people briefed on the matter. The investigation focuses on whether Mr. Trump improperly kept national security records after he left the White House and thwarted repeated government efforts to get them back.
As part of the investigation, the Justice Department interviewed Mr. Nauta several times, starting before the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8 and obtained more than 11,000 documents, includes about 100 that tick classification, according to one of the people. Mr. Nauta has answered questions from federal investigators, though he has not officially cooperated with the government’s investigation into the handling of Mr. Trump’s documents.
His attorney, Stanley Woodward Jr., refused comment. Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman, accused the Biden administration of “colluding with the media through purported leaks in an overt and illegal act of intimidation and forgery.”
washington articles report on Wednesday that Mr. Trump directed an employee interviewed by the FBI to move boxes at Mar-a-Lago. It was not clear if that employee was Mr. Nauta, and a person familiar with the matter and with Mr. Trump’s orbit said it could be another employee.
A top official of the Ministry of Justice told Mr. Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks that the department claims he has yet to return all the documents.
The National Archives, the federal agency that oversees presidential records, has spent much of 2021 trying to retrieve boxes of records its officials are said to have been in the mansion. of the White House at the end of the Trump presidency.
Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have tried to facilitate their return; A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Alex Cannon, told Mr. Trump to ship the boxes back as they were, instead of passing them on and the archivists would return anything that was personal, two brief speaker on the matter. Cannon told Trump aides not to go through the boxes because it was unclear what was in them and the documents may require security clearances.
Instead, Mr. Trump went through the boxes himself in December, according to a person familiar with the move, and archives sent people to pick up 15 of them a month later. When they retrieved the boxes, they found 184 classified documents, which alarmed them.
The Justice Department then began an investigation and quickly concluded that Mr. Trump may not have returned all of the documents in his possession when he delivered the 15 boxes in January.
In one apply to court in August, prosecutors said they had evidence that “government records may have been concealed and deleted“From the Mar-a-Lago archives even after the Justice Department has sent Trump’s office subpoenas for any remaining classified documents. That led prosecutors to conclude that “there may have been efforts to obstruct the government’s investigation,” government filings say.
The Justice Department’s effort to recover documents from Trump began in May, after the FBI inspected 15 boxes of files the National Archives obtained from Mar-a-Lago in January.
On May 11, attorneys for the Department of Justice received subpoenas to retrieve all documents marked as classified that had not been turned over by the former president. In response to the subpoena, Mr. Trump’s team presented FBI agents on June 3 with 38 additional documents that were classified as classified. Of these, 17 are labeled top secret.
But one of Mr Trump’s lawyers present on that visit “clearly prohibited government employees from opening or looking inside any boxes still in the archives room, not giving the government the opportunity to pinpoint acknowledged that none of the documents with the classification mark remained,” the Justice Department filed in August said.
Mr. Trump’s team also provided the department’s national security division in June with a written statement on behalf of his office by one of Mr. Trump’s attorneys, who serves as the official “custodian” of the records. Although the person’s name was redacted in government records, many people identified her as Christina Bobb.
The Department of Justice subsequently received a subpoena for security camera footage from inside Mar-a-Lago, and documents submitted in case revealed that the department worked with “multiple civil witnesses” prior to seeking the search warrant used to carry out the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago.
During the search, FBI agents found three classified documents in the desks of Trump’s office, with more than 100 documents contained in 13 boxes or containers marked for classification. at the residence, including some documents to the fullest extent, according to the Department of Justice filing. August.
The investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of documents is just one of the legal issues he faces. The Justice Department is separately investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results and the events that led to Trump’s supporters attacking the Capitol on January 6, 2020. 2021. Fulton County District Attorney Ga., is also conducting a broad investigation into efforts by Mr. Trump and some of his allies to overturn Mr. Trump’s defeat in the election.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives investigative committee on January 6 was scheduled to organize potentially the last large-scale public hearing. The panel said it plans to reveal new information about Mr. Trump’s state of mind during the tumultuous post-election period and his central role in efforts to stay in power despite his defeat to Joseph. R. Biden Jr.