Mar-a-Lago employee told investigators Donald Trump instructed to move boxes with sensitive documents, source says

Washington – A man working at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort has told investigators that the former president instructed the man to move the boxes. sensitive documents – includes those that may contain classified marks – such as in a different location Federal investigation into handling of some of Trump’s records According to a person familiar with the matter, that was already underway.

According to the source, the person said Trump ordered the transfer of the boxes both before and after the Justice Department issued a subpoena in May for classified documents in Trump’s possession.

Employee is now an associate witness in the Justice Department’s investigation – which later escalated Execution of search warrant at Trump’s Florida residence in August — and appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, CBS News has confirmed.

The boxes were first reported by The Washington Post, along with news of a cooperating witness examining the documents. The New York Times was the first to report that the boxes were moved before and after the summons.

Video of the boxes being handled is now in the hands of investigators – evidence that contributed to the FBI’s decision to execute a court-authorized search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, a source familiar with the investigation says.

Donald Trump holds campaign rally in support of Arizona GOP candidates
Former US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Legacy Sports USA on October 09, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona. Trump was stumping for Arizona GOP candidates ahead of the November 8 midterm election, including gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake.

/ Getty Images

Trump’s fight with the federal government over White House records has lasted 18 months, as Attorney General Gary Stern of the National Archives Wrote a group of Trump lawyers In May 2021 he was informed that Trump’s office had “nearly two dozen boxes of original presidential records” that were once kept in the White House residence, had not yet been returned to the archives. According to a copy of the letter released by the archives, dictator Kim Jong Un.

In January 2022, the National Archives collected 15 boxes of records at Mar-a-Lago and later sent Trump’s documents to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, when the archives said they found “evidence that classified records are stored”. were made” premises.

As of May, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a subpoena to “demand documents containing classification markings” at Trump’s Florida resort, according to unsealed court documents. Trump’s legal team is said to have accepted the service of the summons on May 11 and was served a summons in June for security camera footage from inside Mar-a-Lago. Footage showed boxes of sensitive material being moved to an isolated location at Trump’s resort, and according to the source, a Mar-a-Lago employee told investigators that the relocation was directed by Trump himself.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Trump has denied wrongdoing, partly by claiming that he has declassified related documents, and by labeling the investigation as politically motivated.

In a statement, Taylor Budovich, a spokeswoman for Trump, told CBS News, “The Biden administration has weaponized law enforcement and spoofed a document in a desperate attempt to maintain political power. Time and respect has been given in regards to the document, as the President has the ultimate authority to classify records, and what materials should be classified. The continued attempt to leak misleading and false information to partisan allies in fake news is dangerous political interference. And there is nothing more than unequal justice.”

National Archives reported on Tuesday That any statement that the President’s record was in the possession of “former Presidents or their representatives, after they have left office … are false and misleading.” The archives said they took “physical and legal custody of presidential records” when former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan left office.

Execution of a search warrant at Trump’s residence in August found 33 boxes of contents ranging from press clippings to clothing, and including 103 documents containing confidential markings — labeled confidential, secret, or top secret, according to court documents. These boxes also contained about 50 empty folders with classified banners on them.

Prosecutors disclosed in court documents and proceedings that they are conducting a “national security” investigation into the case and that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is assessing damages as a result of the allegedly improperly stored documents.

Trump sued the Justice Department in the weeks following the discovery, alleging that attorney-client and executive privileges were at stake and requested the appointment of an independent third party to review the material. A federal judge in Florida granted Trump’s request, halted the investigation, and appointed Judge Raymond Deary as special master, a decision that prosecutors have appealed at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

That same appeals court ruled that the Justice Department could continue to use 103 documents with classified markings in its investigation, but Trump’s legal team has since asked the Supreme Court to step in and ask the Special Master to review those more sensitive documents. asked to allow. The government has filed a reply in the court against Trump’s application.

Prosecutors also say they are investigating possible acts of obstruction by the Trump team after court documents showed a representative for the former president gave investigators a signed declaration in June claiming that All documents with classified markings were returned after a “difficult search”. Mar-a-Lago.

Jeff Peggs contributed to this report.

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