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FILE - An aerial view of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. Former President Donald Trump’s civil business fraud trial has turned to one of the topics that has vexed him most — the disputed value of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach luxury real estate broker Lawrence Moens took the stand for Trump's defense Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)/Inset: File Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2015 11/3/15 Donald Trump at a signing for his book, "Crippled America" held on November 3, 2015 in New York City. (NYC)

Prosecutors release new batch of files in Trump Mar-a-Lago case that details the long journey of one belatedly-discovered box containing ‘more personal’ materials

Main image: An aerial view of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File). Inset: Donald Trump at a signing for his book, “Crippled America” held on November 3, 2015 in New York City. (Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx)

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday released a slew of materials related to the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. Some of those documents reveal, for the first time, intimate details about the inner workings of the place once termed the “Winter White House.”

In accordance with an August 2023 court order, the government’s submission includes “a less-redacted version of the search warrant affidavit at issue” in the Mar-a-Lago case, an ancillary filing explains.

On Aug. 8, 2022, federal agents raided former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach compound — part residence; part private club — returning with file boxes upon file boxes containing what federal prosecutors allege were illegally retained classified documents.

An interview transcript between the FBI, a federal prosecutor, a Trump employee identified as Person 10, and a defense attorney describes the long journey of an entirely different box.

Related Coverage:

    The employee describes how their assignment was to scan one box full of documents in order to create “an electronic copy of our records” beginning in September 2021. The employee was assigned to work on just that one box, according to the transcript which begins roughly 1 hour and 38 minutes into the interview.

    The subject matter of that lone box, the employee said, “was his — the only record of his schedule” at the White House, though it is unclear whose schedule is being referenced. At first, the employee says, the box was being kept under the desk of someone identified as Person 34, which was located in “the 45 Office” at Mar-a-Lago.

    That box was taken to the tennis cottage for scanning — using a cellphone app that deposits scanned documents to a remote server, or cloud — the employee told federal investigators. And from there, eventually, those scans made their way to Person 10’s laptop.

    The box of schedules stayed in the cottage until November 2021, when it was moved to a relatively hush-hush Trump office on North Flagler Drive in Palm Beach, about 10 minutes away from Mar-a-Lago.

    And there the box sat, untouched for months, according to Person 10, under their desk until sometime in “late August to September 2022.”

    That’s when some employees moved back to Mar-a-Lago. And then, the box found its way back under Person 34’s desk, Person 10 said.

    “So it’s kind of come, I guess, full circle, back to the same desk,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Thakur remarks.

    “Brought it home,” an unidentified FBI agent adds in the transcript.

    More Law&Crime coverage: DOJ Sought Redactions of Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant Affidavit to Protect ‘Significant Number of Civilian Witnesses’ and Law Enforcement, Unsealed Filing Shows

    By December 2022, it was clear there would be another Mar-a-Lago search — this time by a team of investigators hired by the defense.

    So, the employee told investigators, they “met the lawyers in the morning to let them into the office” and then left because they “didn’t want to be there.” Prior to that, staff decided to clean things up.

    Person 10 clarifies how the box was moved around Mar-a-Lago a week or so before the attorney search that occurred on Dec. 15, 2022.

    “It was in my desk,” the transcript reads — amid some cross-talk. “And then we decided that a box under my desk looked messy, so we put it in the gift closet, which is still inside the office.”

    Eventually, the participants establish that an effort to clean out the closet and make it “like, nice and all that,” led to a discussion and aborted attempt by multiple employees to move the box into storage.

    “Took the box,” Person 10 says. “We were going to put it in storage. And then I realized, like, the lawyers have never like, seen this box. So let’s make sure it’s good. So we brought it back to the office instead of putting it in storage.”

    That box probably sat in the trunk of car overnight while Trump’s employees considered what to do with it, Person 10 said, adding that the car in question was a personal car belonging to another employee who is identified in the transcript as Person 11.

    “Just to put it in the archives or library storage because it looked messy under my desk, having boxes in the office,” Person 10 said.

    More Law&Crime coverage: A ‘hidden room’? Trump complains FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search wasn’t intrusive enough after railing against ‘siege’ and ‘unannounced raid’

    Asked why there was a need for an office cleanup, the employee said the office really needed it — and complained about an alleged lack of basic care for the needs of employees who worked there.

    “The office looked messy,” Person 10 explained. “We were talking about what value did we provide in our, like, new jobs and positions. If we can — there had been complaints. No one had food. No one had snacks. Like, you’re in the office all day and you’re not eating until 7, 8 p.m. at night. So trying to turn one of the bathrooms that we used as storage into a snack room, and just then clean up his gift closet because it just had lots of random things. There was lots of arts laying around. Just trying to make it look more presidential.”

    Person 10 said they were told the box in question included materials “considered more personal” that were confidential but not classified. The assignment to keep the box close to them and scan its contents, the employee added, was given to them by Person 34.

    Person 10 learned on the day of the second search that the box actually did include classified materials — at least at one point. Those materials were removed, investigators and defense attorney John Irving allege in the transcript, by someone identified as Person 60.

    The transcript is available in an omnibus filing here.

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