Witnesses at Mar-a-Lago told FBI the boxes were moving in Trump’s direction

A Trump employee told federal agents to move boxes of Mar-a-Lago documents in the former president’s specific direction, according to people familiar with the investigation, saying witness accounts — combined with security camera footage — provided key investigators Evidence of Donald Trump’s actions when seeking to return classified material.

Eyewitness accounts and footage, described to The Washington Post, provide the most direct account yet of Trump’s actions and directions before the FBI on Aug. 8. 8 Florida homes and private clubs searched, where agents search for evidence Potential criminal conduct, including obstructing, destroying government records, or mishandling classified information.

Witness testimony collected by agents suggests After Trump advisers received a subpoena in May to keep any classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump told people to move the boxes to his residence on the property. The description of the incident was corroborated by security camera footage showing people moving the box, They discussed the ongoing investigation, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment.

Trump spokesman Tyler Budovich declined to answer detailed questions for this article. “The Biden administration has weaponized law enforcement and fabricated a document hoax in a desperate attempt to retain political power,” Budovic said in a statement. “Every other president has been given time and respect when it comes to document management. , because the President has the ultimate authority to classify records and what material should be classified.”

Budovic accused the Justice Department of “continuing its efforts to leak misleading and false information to partisan allies in fake news” and said doing so “is nothing more than dangerous political interference and unequal justice. In short, it is un-American of.”

In Trump White House, classified documents are often mishandled, former aide says

The Mar-a-Lago employee is cooperating with the Justice Department and has been interviewed multiple times by federal agents, who declined to identify the employee, according to people familiar with the matter.

In the first interview, the witnesses denied handling sensitive documents or boxes that might contain such documents, these people said. The witnesses’ stories changed dramatically when the agents decided to re-interview the witnesses as they gathered the evidence, the people said. In a second interview, witnesses described the boxes being moved at Trump’s request.

The witness, now considered a key part of the Mar-a-Lago investigation, provided details about the former president’s alleged conduct and instructions to subordinates that may have been designed to thwart federal officials’ demands for the return of classified documents, these people said. requirements. and government documents.

Multiple witnesses told the FBI they were trying to persuade Trump to cooperate with the National Archives and Records Administration and the Justice Department, which have been seeking the return of sensitive or historic government records for months, people familiar with the matter said.

But pleas from advisers and lawyers who pushed Trump to turn over the documents fell on deaf ears, the people said, who asked not to be identified because of the private conversation. Trump grew angrier this spring after the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation, telling aides they had “blown up” the situation, according to people who heard Trump’s comments. “They are my documents,” Trump said, according to an aide who spoke with him.

Details shared with The Washington Post reveal two key parts of a hitherto kept secret criminal investigation: a statement from a witness who worked for and was instructed by Trump, and the manner in which the Mar-a-Lago security footage was recorded. Played an important role in supporting witness testimony.

Together, the evidence helped persuade the FBI and the Justice Department to seek court authorization for a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, offices and storerooms, which resulted in the seizure of 103 documents marked classified. was not handed over to the government in response to a May subpoena. Some documents detail top-secret U.S. operations that are so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are ignorant of them. August. Eight searches also yielded approximately 11,000 documents not marked for classification.

The failure or potential refusal to return classified documents in response to a subpoena is at the heart of the Justice Department’s Mar-a-Lago investigation, one of several high-profile ongoing investigations involving Trump. The former president remains the most powerful figure in the Republican Party and has spoken publicly about running for the White House again in 2024.

In Trump’s circles, allegations and theories about who might be cooperating with the federal government have persisted for months. Some of the former president’s closest aides continued to work with Trump, even as they saw FBI agents show up at their homes to question them and serve subpoenas.

Status of key investigation involving Donald Trump

Inside the Justice Department and the FBI, witness accounts have remained a secret as agents continue to gather evidence in high-stakes investigations. In addition to wanting to keep the information they’ve collected so far secret, authorities are concerned that if the witness’s identity is eventually made public, the person could face harassment or threats from Trump supporters, the people said.

In Tuesday’s Supreme Court filing, Justice Department attorneys appeared to refer to witness statements and video footage “The FBI found evidence that the response to the grand jury subpoena was incomplete, other classified documents may have remained at Mar-a-Lago, and steps may have been taken to obstruct the investigation,” they wrote.

Since August in the Aug. 8 search, Trump has offered multiple public defenses as to why classified-marked documents remain at Mar-a-Lago — saying he declassified them, suggesting the FBI was in the Evidence was planted in the search and suggested that as a former president, he may have the right to keep classified documents. National security law experts overwhelmingly dismiss such claims, saying they range from far-fetched to absurd.

Among the items seized at Mar-a-Lago: Documents on foreign government nuclear capabilities

Last year, officials at the National Archives began seeking to return the documents. Begin to believe that some of the Trump administration’s presidential records – such as letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – are missing, perhaps in Trump’s hands.

After months of back-and-forth discussions, Trump agreed in January to hand over 15 boxes of materials. When the archivists examined the material, they found 184 documents marked classified, of which 25 were marked top secret, The boxes were scattered in no particular order, according to court documents.

The discovery showed authorities that Trump had not handed over all classified documents in his possession. In May, a grand jury subpoena ordered the return of classified documents marked with various marks, including categories for nuclear weapons secrets.

In response to the subpoena, Trump advisers met with government agents and prosecutors at Mar-a-Lago in early June and handed over a sealed envelope containing another 38 classified documents, 17 of which were marked with Top Secret Documents. According to government documents, Trump’s representatives claimed at the meeting that a serious search had been carried out on all of the club’s classified documents.

That meeting included a visit to a storage room where Trump advisers said the relevant filing boxes were kept, but investigators were not satisfied and were not allowed to inspect the filing boxes they saw in the storage room, government court documents show.

Trump team initially said Mar-a-Lago boxes were news clippings

Five days later, Jay Blatter, a senior Justice Department official, wrote to Trump’s lawyers, reminding them that Mar-a-Lago “does not include a secure location authorized to store classified information.” Blatter wrote that classified documents appear to be “not handled in an appropriate manner or stored in an appropriate location.”

“Therefore, we are requesting the protection of the Mar-a-Lago room where documents are kept, and requiring that all boxes moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) are kept in that room in their current state until further notice. .”

Agents continued to gather evidence that Trump apparently failed to comply with government requests or subpoena requests. After careful consideration, Realizing that it was highly unusual for federal agents to search the former president’s home, they decided to seek approval from a judge.

That August, eight searches found 103 documents marked classified within hours, 18 of which were marked top secret, according to court documents. The stash included at least one document describing a foreign military defense, including its nuclear capabilities.

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