Last year, former President Donald J. Trump’s attorney, Mr. The day before a key meeting between Trump and officials seeking the return of classified documents, an aide at the former president’s private club was seen moving boxes into a storage room. , according to a person familiar with the matter.
The maintenance worker volunteered to help the aide – at the White House, Mr. Walt Nauta — Trump’s aide — moved the boxes and gave him a hand. But the worker did not know what was inside the box, said a person familiar with the matter. The maintenance worker shared the account with federal prosecutors, the person said.
Mr. The worker’s account will be important to prosecutors because it details how Trump handled sensitive documents he took with him from the White House after leaving office and thwarted efforts by the Justice Department and the National Archives to retrieve them.
The day before Jay Pratt, the Justice Department’s top intelligence official, visited Mar-a-Lago, Mr. In the storage room where Nauda and the maintenance worker were moving boxes, Mr. Trump’s possession was discovered. June to recover government goods from the former president.
Mr. Pratt discussed with Mr. Trump’s lawyer M. Before Evan Corcoran searched the storage room that same day, Mr. Nauta and the worker moved the boxes into the room. Mr. Corcoran called Justice Department officials that night to set up a meeting the next day. He believed he did not have security clearance to carry documents with classified markings, a person said, explaining his decision.
A few weeks ago, the Department of Justice issued a subpoena seeking the return of the documents. Prosecutors were trying to determine whether Mr Trump moved the documents around Mar-a-Lago or tried to hide some of them after the subpoena.
Part of their interest, Mr. Corcoran, ahead of the meeting with Justice Department officials, said Mr. Corcoran is trying to determine if the documents have been moved before moving them. In moving documents at that time, Mr. Prosecutors have asked witnesses about the roles of Nauta and the maintenance worker, whose name has not been released publicly.
During his trip to Mar-a-Lago on June 3, Mr. According to one of Trump’s lawyers, Mr. Pratt was handed a package containing about three dozen documents with classified markings. Mr. To Pratt, Mr. A letter drafted by Corcoran but signed by another of the former president’s attorneys was also provided, certifying that a diligent search was made for any additional material in response to the subpoena and that none was found. At that time Mr. to search the storage room. Pratt was not granted permission.
Mr. with the maintenance worker. Details of Nautha contact time The Washington Post previously reported. Mr. Nauta’s lawyer declined to comment. The maintenance worker’s attorney would not discuss the matter publicly.
The New York Times reported this month that prosecutors obtained cooperation from a witness who worked at Mar-a-Lago. Among other things, the witness provided investigators with a picture of the storage room.
The investigation, overseen by special counsel Jack Smith, has shown signs of entering its final stages, and this week Mr. Trump’s lawyers requested a meeting to discuss. Attorney General Merrick B. Case with Garland.
Mr. Trump spokesman Steven Cheung called the investigation “a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump designed to interfere with the election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House.”
He said prosecutors had “harassed everyone who worked for, worked for or supported President Trump” and that Mr Trump had tried to cooperate with the Justice Department.
Mr. Prosecutors are questioning witnesses about a possible motive for keeping the Trump documents.
Mr. They have subpoenaed information about Trump’s trade deals with foreign countries since he took office. After a series of efforts, the first 15 boxes handed over to the National Archives in January 2022 were found to contain government material – classified documents – Mr. They were told by witnesses that some aides may have known that Trump still had the documents in his possession. Through the archives to retrieve the documents, as people briefed on the matter.
Among the most important witnesses in recent months is Mr. Corcoran, the Justice Department’s Mr. He wrote to Pratt that a diligent search had turned up no further documents.
In March, prosecutors said Mr. Mr. Corcoran’s attorney-client privilege. They successfully wrangled with Trump under the felony-fraud exception, a provision of the law that can be used when investigators have evidence that a lawyer’s services may have been used at the commission. crime
Judge Beryl A., then presiding over grand jury cases in federal district court in Washington. Howell, Mr. Trump knows Mr. Prosecutors have demonstrated ample evidence of what documents Corcoran still holds.
2021 and early last year in dealing with the National Archives Mr. The Times previously reported that Judge Howell wrote in a sealed memorandum that his handling of what he called Trump’s “misdirection” was “obviously a dress rehearsal.” A person summarized the memo’s contents in a grand jury subpoena last May.
By attorney-client privilege Mr. In a sealed memo ruling that Corcoran should not be protected, Judge Howell said Mr. He touched on several incidents that prosecutors considered evidence of Trump’s obstruction and misappropriation of government goods. Part, the person told about its contents.
“Other evidence demonstrates that the former president intentionally sought to retain classified documents when he was not authorized to do so, and was aware of it,” Ms. Howell wrote, the person said.
Judge Howell acknowledged that the standard for meeting the felony-fraud exception is lower than that required to bring charges or win a jury verdict, according to a person familiar with what he wrote. Nevertheless, the judge made it clear that he believed the government had reached the limit both to prevent grand jury proceedings and to “retain national security information without authorization.”
“The government has presented sufficient evidence that the former president was in possession of material documents containing national security information,” he wrote, “and that he failed to provide those documents to an official entitled to access them.”
At another point, Judge Howell, Mr. He addressed Trump’s mindset and mindset, saying the government has provided enough evidence to show the former president knowingly withheld classified documents.
Late last year, after pressure from lawyers, Mr. He also noted that a further search of Trump properties conducted by experts on Trump’s behalf found additional documents with classified markings in his bedroom at Mar-a-Lago. said.
“Significantly, no excuse was made for how the former president could have missed the secret-coded documents found in his own bedroom at Mar-a-Lago,” wrote Judge Howell, who was briefed on the contents of his memo.