The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly working with a witness who has knowledge of the inner workings of Mar-a-Lago and former President Donald Trump’s improper transfer of government documents from the White House to his Palm Beach, Florida, estate.
The unnamed person cooperating with the Justice Department — whom The New York Times, which broke the story, described as an “insider witness” — has been employed at Mar-a-Lago, though in what capacity is yet unknown. The report does not detail whether or not the witness is still working there.
The extent to which the witness is helping the DOJ is also unknown. However, the individual in question has supplied some evidence to the department, including a picture of the storage room where Trump was keeping government documents, some of which were marked as classified.
Trump has errantly claimed that he had the ability to declassify the documents in question — which contain secret information on nuclear weapons — simply by thinking about it. In reality, however, there is a lengthy process through which classified information can be declassified, and such an action taken by a president, even unilaterally, would have been documented.
Trump has voluntarily returned documents to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the DOJ twice in the past. The FBI retrieved additional documents from Mar-a-Lago in August, when it became clear that Trump was still storing documents at his estate — and lawyers for the Justice Department believe that Trump may still be in possession of other classified documents.
More than 300 classified documents, as well as thousands of government materials that weren’t supposed to be transported out of the White House, have been retrieved by the federal government from Trump since the start of 2022.
Per The New York Times’s reporting, the DOJ is “intensifying” its investigation into Trump’s removal of documents from the White House, and is now attempting to ascertain whether Trump personally ordered boxes with classified documents to be moved on his Mar-a-Lago property in order to prevent government officials from retrieving them.
The cooperation of the new witness is part of that effort, The Times reported. So, too, is “a wave of new subpoenas and grand jury testimony,” the publication said, including subpoenas for at least four more Mar-a-Lago employees as well as a person who had knowledge of Trump’s thinking when he first returned documents to NARA, in January of 2022.
Two sources told The Times that nearly everyone who works at Mar-a-Lago has been subpoenaed by the DOJ at least once so far.
The DOH has issued subpoenas to Trump and his companies for additional surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago. Some of the footage that has already been handed to investigators contains gaps that are so far unexplained. The DOJ is also subpoenaing the software company that handles the recordings for an explanation on why those gaps may exist.
Evidence in the form of emails and text messages suggests that Trump sought to mislead prosecutors in their execution of a June subpoena last year. Lawyers for Trump had crafted an affidavit vowing that Trump had turned over all of the classified materials at the estate— but after the FBI found that to be false, the FBI executed a search of Mar-a-Lago in August.
Recent developments in the investigation suggest that the DOJ may bring serious charges against Trump when the department’s inquiry is completed. Depending on what the DOJ finds in its several-months long investigation, Trump could face a bevy of charges relating to obstruction, due to his alleged attempts to keep documents hidden, in addition to charges relating to the general mishandling of secretive government documents, including possibly through statutes mentioned in the Espionage Act.
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