The Washington Post reported last week that the employee was repeatedly questioned by investigators after he was seen on video footage helping another Trump aide, Walt Nauta, move boxes around a room. Mar-a-Lago storage facility on June 2, the day before a justice summit. A department official arrived with FBI agents to collect classified documents in response to the subpoena.
Authorities also looked into the events of mid-July surrounding another subpoena, who was looking for footage from security cameras on the property. Around that time, the employee allegedly had a conversation with an IT specialist at the site about how the security cameras worked and how long the footage was stored in the system, the person familiar with that aspect of the job said. ‘investigation.
The employee later told investigators the conversation was innocent and not intended to hide anything from authorities, saying he was unaware at the time of the investigation or subpoena. to appear, according to another person familiar with the investigation.
But those responses were met with skepticism, people familiar with the situation said.
John Irving, an attorney representing the employee under surveillance for helping move boxes and the security camera discussion, declined to comment for the story.
A spokesperson for Smith also declined to comment.
Trump advisers said the former president was annoyed by conversations last summer about how to handle subpoenas seeking video footage. Eventually, the security camera footage was turned over to investigators.
The classified documents case is one of four criminal investigations involving the former president, who is also seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Smith is separately investigating the conduct of Trump and those around him in efforts to blocking the results of the 2020 presidential election. The Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney is doing the same. And Trump was indicted in New York for falsifying business documents related to silent payments during the 2016 election.
People familiar with the investigation of the classified documents say Smith’s team have concluded the bulk of their investigative work and believe they have uncovered a handful of separate episodes of obstructive conduct – although those cases result in Criminal charges are unclear.
Prosecutors viewed with suspicion the timing of the boxes being moved in and out of Mar-a-Lago’s storage room.
The night the boxes were moved back to the storage area, Trump’s attorneys invited Justice Department officials to tour the former president’s residence and private club. The next day, June 3, Justice Department lead counsel Jay Bratt and FBI agents traveled to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump attorneys delivered a sealed envelope containing 38 classified documents, according to reports. court documents.
As part of this visit, federal law enforcement officials were invited to visit the storage room, it’s where Trump’s aides said boxes of documents from his time as president were kept. Court documents filed by the Justice Department said Trump’s lawyers told visitors they could not open any of the boxes in the storage room or look at their contents.
When FBI agents obtained a court order to search Mar-a-Lago in August, they found more than 100 others classified documents, some in Trump’s office and some in the storage area.
Trump and the Mar-a-Lago Classified Documents: A Timeline
In an August court filing explaining the search, prosecutors wrote that they had developed evidence that “obstructive conduct” had taken place in response to the subpoena, including that documents ” were probably concealed and removed from the storage room”.
Prosecutors also gathered evidence that even before Trump’s office received the subpoena in May, he had what some officials dubbed a “dress rehearsal” to move government documents he didn’t want to give up, people familiar with the investigation told The Post last week. .
Prosecutors separately were told by more than one witness that Trump sometimes kept classified documents out in the open in his Florida office where others could see them, people familiar with the matter said last week, and sometimes showed them to people, including assistants and visitors.
Depending on the strength of this evidence, such accounts could seriously undermine claims by Trump or his lawyers that he did not know he had classified documents.