Mar-a-Lago Worker Provided Prosecutors New Details in Trump Documents Case
A day before a key meeting last year between former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyer and officials seeking the return of classified documents in Mr. Trump’s possession, a maintenance worker at the former president’s private club escorted an aide into a storage room. Seen moving boxes. According to a person familiar with the matter.
The maintenance worker offered to help the aide — Walt Nauta, Mr. Trump’s valet at the White House — help move the boxes and eventually gave him a hand. But the worker did not know what was inside the boxes, said a person familiar with the matter. The maintenance worker shared the account with federal prosecutors, the person said.
The activist’s account is potentially important to prosecutors as they gather details about how Mr. Trump handled sensitive documents he took with him from the White House after leaving office and whether he shared with the Justice Department and National hindered efforts by the Archives to retrieve them.
Mr. Trump was holding some of the documents in a storage room where Mr. Nota and maintenance workers were moving boxes the day before Jay Brett, the top counterintelligence official at the Justice Department, left for Mar-a-Lago. . June for the return of any government goods held by the former president.
Mr. Nota and the worker moved the boxes into the room before searching the storage room the same day, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, who was in talks with Mr. Brett. Mr. Corcoran called Justice Department officials that night to set up a meeting for the next day. One man told of his decision that he believed he did not have security clearance to transport documents with classified markings.
Weeks ago, the Justice Department issued a subpoena demanding the return of the documents. Prosecutors are trying to determine whether Mr. Trump had the documents moved around Mar-a-Lago or tried to hide some of them after the deposition.
Part of their interest is trying to determine whether the documents were moved before Mr. Corcoran went through the boxes before meeting with Justice Department officials who want to retrieve them. Prosecutors are asking witnesses about the role of Mr. Nota and the maintenance worker, who has not been publicly named, in moving the documents around that time.
During his trip to Mar-a-Lago on June 3, Mr. Brett was handed a packet of about three dozen documents marked confidentially by Mr. Trump’s lawyer. Mr. Brett was also given a letter, drafted by Mr. Corcoran but signed by another of the former president’s lawyers, confirming that any additional material in response to the subpoena was not forthcoming. A diligent search was made and none was found. Mr. Brett was not granted access to search the storage room at this location.
The timing of Mr Nota’s interaction with the maintenance worker was detailed. The Washington Post previously reported.. Mr Nota’s lawyer declined to comment. An attorney for the care worker would not discuss the matter publicly.
The New York Times Reported this month that the prosecution had obtained cooperation from a witness who worked at Mar-a-Lago; Among other things, the witness provided investigators with a photo of the storage room.
The investigation, overseen by special counsel Jack Smith, has shown signs of entering its final stages, and this week lawyers for Mr Trump – the current front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination – opened a meeting for talks. A meeting was called. Matters with Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, 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 added that prosecutors had “further harassed everyone who works for, works for, or supports President Trump” and maintained that Mr. Trump had tried to cooperate with the Justice Department.
Prosecutors are questioning witnesses about Mr. Trump’s possible motive for keeping the documents.
He has filed a petition. Information about Mr. Trump’s business dealings Since he became president with foreign countries. And they have been told by witnesses that some aides may have known Mr Trump still had the documents after repeated efforts to remove the initial 15 boxes of government material – which were found to contain classified documents – It was handed over to the National Archives in January 2022. Archives to retrieve the material, according to people briefed on the matter.
The most prominent witness in recent months has been Mr. Corcoran, who met with Mr. Brett of the Justice Department last June and drafted a letter that said a diligent search had turned up no more documents.
In March, prosecutors successfully pierced Mr. Corcoran’s attorney-client privilege with Mr. Trump under the crime-fraud immunity, a provision of the law that can be used when investigators have information about Evidence that the services of a lawyer have been used in the commission. crime
Judge Beryl A. Howell, then Chief Judge presiding over grand jury cases in the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. It was found that the prosecution had presented sufficient evidence. that Mr. Trump deliberately misled Mr. Corcoran about what documents he still had.
Times Reported earlier That Judge Howell wrote in a sealed memorandum, which he filed with the National Archives in 2021 and early last year as Mr. Trump’s “misdirection,” said it was “apparently a dress rehearsal” that he How to Handle a Grand Jury Appearance Last May, according to a person briefed on the memo’s contents.
In a sealed memo outlining his reasoning for ruling that Mr. Corcoran should not be protected by attorney-client privilege, Judge Howell highlighted a number of examples that prosecutors have used against Mr. Trump to potentially block official material. And considered evidence of wrongful possession. Part, the person told about its contents.
“Other evidence demonstrates that the former president intentionally sought to withhold classified documents when he was not authorized to do so, and he knew it,” Ms. Hole wrote, the person said.
Judge Howell acknowledged that the standard for meeting the felony fraud exception is lower than what would be required to bring charges or win a jury verdict, according to the person who wrote it. Still, the judge made clear that he believed the government met that threshold, both for obstructing grand jury proceedings and for “unauthorized retention of national defense information,” the person said.
“The government has presented substantial evidence that the former president is in possession of substantial documents containing national defense information,” he wrote, adding that he demonstrated that he “disclosed those documents to an officer entitled to receive them.” failed to deliver.”
Elsewhere, Judge Howell addressed Mr. Trump’s intent and state of mind, saying the government had provided enough evidence to meet its burden that the former president knowingly withheld classified documents. It was, said the man.
He also noted that a further search of Trump properties late last year, carried out by experts on behalf of Mr Trump after pressure from prosecutors, led to secret signs in his bedroom at Mar-a-Lago. Obtained additional documents, the person briefed on the document. said.
“Notably, no excuse has been provided as to how the former president could have lost the classified documents found in his bedroom at Mar-a-Lago,” Judge Howell wrote. , according to a person familiar with the contents of his memo.