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    Monday, February 26, 2024

    Trump workers reportedly moved documents a day before Justice Dept. visit

    Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla., after being arraigned earlier in the day in New York City. Trump has raised more than $34 million for his 2024 campaign since the start of the year, according to his campaign. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

    Two of Donald Trump's employees moved boxes of papers the day before an early June visit by FBI agents and a prosecutor to the former president's Florida home to retrieve classified documents in response to a subpoena - timing that investigators have come to view as suspicious and an indication of possible obstruction, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Trump and his aides also allegedly carried out a "dress rehearsal" for moving sensitive papers even before his office received the May 2022 subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive ongoing investigation.

    Prosecutors in addition have gathered evidence indicating that Trump at times kept classified documents in his office in a place where they were visible and sometimes showed them to others, these people said.

    Taken together, the new details of the classified-documents investigation suggest a greater breadth and specificity to the instances of possible obstruction found by the FBI and Justice Department than have been previously reported. It also broadens the timeline of possible obstruction episodes that investigators are examining - a period stretching from events at Mar-a-Lago before the subpoena to the period after the FBI raid there on Aug. 8.

    That timeline may prove crucial as prosecutors seek to determine Trump's intent in keeping hundreds of classified documents after he left the White House, a key factor in deciding whether to file charges, possibly for obstruction, mishandling national security secrets or both. The Washington Post has previously reported that the boxes were moved out of the storage area after Trump's office received a subpoena. But the precise timing of that activity is a significant element in the investigation, the people familiar with the matter said.

    Grand jury activity in the case has slowed in recent weeks, and Trump's attorneys have taken steps - including outlining his potential defense to members of Congress and seeking a meeting with the attorney general - that suggest they believe a charging decision is getting closer. The grand jury working on the investigation apparently has not met since May 5, after months of frenetic activity at the federal courthouse in Washington. That is the panel's longest hiatus since December, shortly after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special counsel to lead the probe and coinciding with the year-end holidays.

    Smith also is investigating Trump's efforts to block the results of the 2020 election. And the former president - who is again a candidate for the White House - has been indicted in New York on charges of falsifying business records and is under investigation for election-related matters in Fulton County, Ga.

    Trump has denied wrongdoing 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, wrote in a statement. "Just like all the other fake hoaxes thrown at President Trump, this corrupt effort will also fail."

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