The new version of the affidavit still keeps a number of investigative details secret. But it reveals more about what officers had learned by the time they executed the search at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, including details of how security camera footage captured a key Trump aide moving boxes before and after being questioned by the FBI.
The information fills in some blanks about the high-stakes investigation, but does not fundamentally change the public’s understanding of the 38-count indictment filed last month against Trump and aide Waltine Nauta. The details offer a more detailed account of how the movement of the Nauta boxes, captured on video, led investigators to suspect that Trump was trying to hide documents and mislead the Justice Department.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. A lawyer for Nauta is scheduled to appear in federal court in Miami on Thursday to plead not guilty on his behalf. Nauta’s legal team declined to comment on Wednesday evening.
Investigators issued a subpoena in June 2022 for Mar-a-Lago security camera footage around a storage area where Trump kept dozens of boxes, many of which allegedly contained classified documents. The digital images were turned over to the government in early July last year, and the affidavit makes it clear that the material provided important evidence that propelled the investigation.
The affidavit says footage showed that on May 24, Witness 5 – a person described in the indictment as Nauta – was observed carrying three boxes inside Mar-a-Lago. Two days later, Nauta was questioned by FBI agents. He reportedly denied knowing much about the location or movement of the boxes at Trump’s home and private club, beyond the fact that 15 boxes were sent from there in early 2022 to the National Archives and Records Administration. It was later discovered that these boxes contained some 184 classified documents.
The newly unsealed portion of the affidavit says surveillance footage shows that four days after the FBI interview, Nauta moved “about fifty bankers’ boxes” out of a storage room. The document adds that the FBI “did not observe this amount of returned boxes.”
At the time, the Justice Department was awaiting a response from Trump’s legal team to a grand jury subpoena, which requested the return to the government of any additional documents with classified marks.
Follow the alleged path of Trump’s boxes to Mar-a-Lago
On June 2 – just a day before FBI officials arrived at Mar-a-Lago to collect documents in response to the subpoena – security camera footage showed Nauta “moving twenty-five to thirty boxes, some of which were brown cardboard boxes and some of which were bankers’ boxes,” back to the storage room, a newly unsealed portion of says the affidavit.
This is a key distinction for investigators, as it would show that Nauta, apparently under Trump’s direction, moved a total of “approximately 64 boxes from the STORAGE ROOM area” in May 2022 but “only returned 25 to 30 boxes” in this room.
The affidavit also recounts a June 3 meeting at Mar-a-Lago between FBI agents, Justice Department attorney Jay Bratt, Trump attorney Evan Corcoran, and Trump’s records keeper Christina Bobb. , although the document does not identify any of them by name.
During this meeting, Corcoran handed over a registered file containing 38 classified documents, according to officials.
Corcoran, who was only identified in the redacted affidavit as “FPOTUS COUNSEL 1” – that is, the legal adviser to the former President of the United States – “stated that he had been informed that all files originating from the White House were stored in one place in Mar-a-Lago, the STORAGE ROOM and the boxes of documents in the STORAGE ROOM were “the remaining repository” of House documents Blanche,” states a newly unsealed section of the affidavit.
He goes on to say that Corcoran added “he was not advised that there were any recordings in a private office space or other location at Mar-a-Lago”.
Prosecutors had already said as much about Corcoran’s statements at that meeting, but the newly unsealed passages help explain why a federal judge ultimately ruled that Corcoran could be questioned before a grand jury.
Trump’s legal team has sought to block such testimony, saying Corcoran’s conversations with the former president should be protected by attorney-client privilege. But the judge found there was enough evidence to suggest that Corcoran may have been lied to and may have repeated those lies to investigators. Under a rule known as the “criminal fraud exception”, the judge said, Corcoran therefore had to testify.
Corcoran has not been charged in this case.