An employee at former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate has informed federal agents that Trump ordered people to relocate White House documents he was improperly storing in a storage locker at Mar-a-Lago after a subpoena order was issued for the retrieval of the documents earlier this year.
The revelation was brought to light by The Washington Post, which cited “people familiar with the investigation” in their reporting.
The employee is cooperating with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and has been interviewed several times by investigators. According to sources who spoke with the Post, the employee’s claim has been corroborated by surveillance camera footage.
The identity of the employee has not yet been revealed.
According to witness accounts, after Trump received a subpoena from the department in May, he ordered this worker and possibly others to relocate boxes from a storage location at Mar-a-Lago to his personal living quarters at the estate.
Initially, the witness cited by the Post denied that Trump had made such an order. As more evidence was collected, however, and upon being asked about the matter a second time, the witness’s story “changed dramatically,” the publication said.
Separate reporting from The New York Times notes that security footage at Mar-a-Lago shows Walt Nauta — a former military aide in the Trump White House who followed the ex-president to Mar-a-Lago after he left office — carrying boxes from the storage area. Nauta isn’t necessarily the individual who the Post said provided the witness testimony to the DOJ; although officials have interviewed him several times, he hasn’t formally cooperated with the investigation so far.
When the subpoena was executed in June, Trump appeared to cooperate with officials, even greeting them when they arrived. Since then, however, it has become clear that Trump has consistently refused to cooperate with the investigation, despite his claims to the contrary.
Trump spent all of 2021, for example, rejecting the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) requests that he return thousands of government documents he took from the White House. Trump only relented and allowed NARA to retrieve some of the documents in January of this year, after the agency threatened to involve Congress.
Upon retrieving the documents, officials discovered that some were marked as classified, prompting them to reach out to the DOJ. In late spring, the department subpoenaed Trump to retrieve the remaining classified material from his property. As part of that subpoena, Trump’s legal counsel had to affirm that no more documents marked as classified remained at the property.
After witness testimony and surveillance footage suggested that Trump was still keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, an FBI search warrant was executed in early August, netting around 20 boxes of documents — including more than 100 documents marked as classified. In all, more than 300 classified materials have been retrieved from Mar-a-Lago since the start of the year.
Trump lashed out at the reporting from the Post in a Truth Social post on Wednesday night.
“There is no ‘crime’ having to do with the storage of documents at Mar-a- Lago,” Trump claimed, “only in the minds of the Radical Left Lunatics who are destroying our Country.”
Legal experts on Twitter disagreed.
“Moving documents to hide them from DOJ is the kind of aggravating factor that would make Trump’s conduct an indictable offense,” former U.S. attorney and current Michigan Law School professor Barb McQuade said.
“Day by day the evidence that proves Trump personally orchestrated the theft and concealment of top secret documents becomes stronger,” said Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School. “Any shadow of a doubt about his guilt is rapidly vanishing.”
It takes longer to read this sentence than it does to support our work.
We don’t have much time left to raise the $15,000 needed to meet Truthout‘s basic publishing costs this month. Will you take a few seconds to donate and give us a much-needed boost?
We know you are deeply committed to the issues that matter, and you count on us to bring you trustworthy reporting and comprehensive analysis on the real issues facing our country and the world. And as a nonprofit newsroom supported by reader donations, we’re counting on you too. If you believe in the importance of an independent, free media, please make a tax-deductible donation today!