The Department of Justice (DOJ) has subpoenaed at least two dozen staffers at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Florida, in relation to the grand jury investigation into his removal of government records from the White House, including hundreds of materials that were marked classified.
Staffers affected by the department’s orders include restaurant servers, housekeepers and direct aides to the former president, such as his attorneys, sources with knowledge of the subpoenas said.
“They’re casting an extremely wide net — anyone and everyone who might have seen something” relating to the investigation, one source said.
Some of the staffers recently met with the grand jury, including Margo Martin, a communications aide to Trump, who met with the panel this week in Washington, D.C.
Many of the staffers are being represented by legal counsel who are being paid for by Trump’s business entities.
According to Ryan Goodman, co-founder of Just Security and a former special counsel for the Pentagon, some of the people who DOJ special counsel Jack Smith is seeking testimony from are “invisible” to Trump — staffers who are part of the everyday operations at Mar-a-Lago, but whom the former president may not have a personal relationship with.
“They are the eyes and ears, and they can see things” that go on at the estate, Goodman said on CNN. “Or they can know things might even be somewhat rumored, but then they can at least give the investigators leads, so they can tell the investigators who is present in different conversations.”
When Trump left office after his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race, he took thousands of government documents with him. Ordinarily, presidents and their staff are required to turn over such documents to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) before leaving office.
NARA tried to get Trump to return the documents for almost a year after he had left the White House. Trump eventually returned some of the documents in January 2022, but only after the agency threatened to involve Congress if he didn’t cooperate.
After NARA retrieved the initial batch of documents, agency officials became aware that Trump was keeping classified materials in an unsecured location at Mar-a-Lago. After NARA alerted the DOJ, the department issued a subpoena in late spring of 2022, demanding that Trump return all materials marked classified.
Trump appeared to comply with that order, and his lawyers drafted and signed a document attesting that he was no longer keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. However, evidence later surfaced that Trump still had classified documents in his possession; surveillance video showed staffers moving the documents after the DOJ had served the subpoena, prompting the FBI to obtain a warrant and execute an unannounced search at Trump’s residence in August to retrieve the remaining classified material.
More than 100 documents marked classified were retrieved in that search. So far, more than 300 classified documents have been returned to NARA since Trump left the White House.
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