Legal expert: Trump’s trusted Mar-a-Lago aides may soon be “testifying witnesses” against him

An employee at Mar-a-Lago who assisted with moving boxes of documents last June was questioned regarding his behavior in relation to a government request for surveillance footage from former President Donald Trump’s property, according to The Washington Post

The employee has been questioned several times by authorities after video footage revealed their involvement in assisting Walt Nauta, a Trump aide, in moving boxes into a storage room at Mar-a-Lago a day before Justice Department officials came with FBI agents to collect classified material in response to the subpoena, the Post reported last week.

“If true that the President Trump’s employees moved classified documents ahead of a DOJ visit to Mar-a-lago, those actions, if linked to President Trump, could be demonstrative of his intent to unlawfully prevent the retrieval of the documents,” Temidayo Aganga-Williams, partner at Selendy Gay Elsberg and former senior investigative counsel for the House Jan. 6 committee, told Salon. 

Special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators are trying to determine whether Trump or people close to him attempted to obstruct justice in response to a grand jury subpoena requiring the return of classified documents, or if they lied about what happened, people familiar with the matter told the Post.

As part of the investigation, authorities have also looked into incidents in mid-July related to a separate subpoena that sought surveillance footage from the property. 

During that period, the employee reportedly engaged in a conversation with an IT worker at the site, discussing how the security cameras worked and asked about how long images were stored in the system, a person familiar with the investigation told the newspaper. 

The employee later informed investigators that he had no intention of concealing anything from the authorities and was unaware of the investigation or the existence of the subpoena at the time of the conversation, according to another person familiar with the matter.

“But those answers were met with skepticism,” people familiar with the situation told the Post.

John Irving, a lawyer representing one of the two employees involved in moving the boxes, told The Post that the worker was unaware of their contents and was only trying to help Nauta, who was using a dolly or hand truck to move several boxes.

He later added that the employee helped Nauta pack an SUV when Trump left for Bedminster for the summer.

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“The DOJ’s next likely step is to seek the formal cooperation of both employees in its case against President Trump,” Aganga-Williams said. “The employees could very possibly be testifying witnesses in any future trial.”

He added that their testimony “could strengthen the special counsel’s case against President Trump by demonstrating his intent to not only obstruct the DOJ’s investigation, but also his knowledge that his continued retention of the classified documents was unlawful.” 

Before receiving the subpoena in May, Trump and his associates had engaged in what some officials have referred to as a “dress rehearsal,” which involved the movement of government documents that he wished to retain. 

Prosecutors also have evidence of Trump keeping classified documents in his office and sometimes showing them to people, according to The Washington Post. Legal experts have said that the report suggests the former president may be facing more serious charges than obstruction.

Recent reports indicate that Smith’s team is in the final stages of concluding its investigative work.

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