One day before the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, two of his employees moved boxes of sensitive papers. Sources familiar with the matter told The Washington Post that the timing of the move is being seen as suspect and a sign of potential obstruction.
People who spoke with the Post on condition of anonymity also revealed that Trump and his aides practiced moving the papers prior to the arrival of a subpoena in May 2022.
Prosecutors have collected evidence that indicates that Trump sometimes had classified materials visible in his office and, at times, showed them to other people, the sources said.
The new details of the Mar-a-Lago classified-documents probe expand the time period that instances of obstruction may have occurred — from events before the subpoena to after the FBI raid on Aug. 8.
As prosecutors seek to establish Trump's intent in retaining hundreds of classified documents after he left office, that timeline may prove to be a key factor in determining whether to file charges, people familiar with the matter told the Post.
Trump's legal team has taken steps that suggest it believes a decision on charges may be nearing, including outlining a potential defense to members of Congress and requesting a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The grand jury working on the case has not convened since May 5, following months of feverish activity at the Washington, D.C., federal courthouse. It's the panel's longest break since December, not long after Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith to head the investigation.
Smith is also investigating whether the former president attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump, a candidate in the 2024 presidential race, has also been indicted by the Manhattan district attorney on charges of falsifying business records and is facing a probe related to the 2020 election in Fulton County, Georgia.
John Irving, an attorney representing one of the two employees who moved the boxes, told the Post the employee didn't know what was in the boxes and was just trying to help Trump valet Walt Nauta.
"He was seen on Mar-a-Lago security video helping Walt Nauta move boxes into a storage area on June 2, 2022," Irving said. "My client saw Mr. Nauta moving the boxes and volunteered to help him."
The staffer helped Nauta load up an SUV the next day, "when former president Trump left for Bedminster for the summer."
Irving added that his client has cooperated with authorities and did not have "any reason to think that helping to move boxes was at all significant."
Trump has denied the allegations in each case.
"This is nothing more than a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump that is concocted to meddle in an election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House," Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesman, said in a statement.
"Just like all the other fake hoaxes thrown at President Trump, this corrupt effort will also fail."
Claiming that investigators have "harassed anyone and everyone who works [for], has worked [for], or supports Donald Trump," Cheung accused prosecutors of having "no regard for common decency or key rules that govern the legal system."
Department of Justice officials have said that the raid on Mar-a-Lago occurred only after months of efforts to recover all classified materials failed.
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