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Washington Post: Trump staff moved boxes the day before DOJ went to Mar-a-Lago



Two Donald Trump staffers moved boxes of papers at Mar-a-Lago a day before the Justice Department visited the former president’s residence to collect classified documents, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The Post, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that investigators view the timing — just before FBI agents and a prosecutor visited the Florida resort to recover the documents sought as part of a subpoena — as a potential sign of obstruction.

Investigators have evidence, the newspaper reported, that the former president kept classified documents in a visible place in his office and had shown them to others. He also allegedly conducted “a dress rehearsal” to move sensitive papers” with his team before they were subpoenaed in May 2022, according to the report.

CNN previously reported that after the May 2022 subpoena — which the former president wanted to fight — federal prosecutors held a June meeting at Mar-a-Lago where they had documents found in a basement room returned. At the meeting, Trump’s lawyers handed over an envelope containing 38 classified documents, according to court documents.

The June meeting was later followed by a court-authorized search of the property by the FBI in August, in part because investigators developed evidence that classified documents potentially remained at the residence, a source previously told CNN.

A lawyer for one of the Trump staffers told the Post that his client had tried to help Trump help Walt Nauta and did not know what the boxes contained. “He was seen on Mar-a-Lago security video helping Walt Nauta move boxes into a storage area on June 2, 2022. My client saw Mr. Nauta moving the boxes and volunteered to help him,” shared attorney John Irving for the Post.

Prosecutors have pressed for answers about why Nauta was seen on Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage moving boxes out of the storage room before and after the May subpoena, which he had said in an interview with investigators was at Trump’s behest .

The latest revelations come as special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents and possible obstruction of justice, recently obtained new evidence that could undermine Trump’s defense in the documents case.

CNN exclusively reported last week that the National Archives planned to release 16 records showing that Trump and his advisers were aware of the proper declassification process, which could undermine Trump and his allies’ persistent claims that he did not have to follow a specific process to declassify documents.

Trump told CNN during a Republican presidential town hall earlier this month that he had declassified documents simply by removing them from the White House.

“I had every right to under the Presidential Records Act,” Trump told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, adding, “You have the Presidential Records Act. I was there and I took what I took and it’s being declassified. ”

However, under the law, the National Archives becomes the legal custodian of the presidential records when a president leaves office.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly reflect the number of classified documents Trump’s lawyers turned over at a June meeting at Mar-a-Lago.

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