A personal aide to Trump told federal investigators that Trump ordered him to move boxes of documents at his Mar-a-Lago property around the same time federal investigators asked Trump to turn over records he took after leaving the White House, according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke with the Washington Post.
The Washington Post originally reported, based on anonymous sources, that an unnamed employee at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence told investigators about being ordered by the former president to move documents. In a subsequent report again citing anonymous sources, the Washington Post said the initially unnamed Trump employee may have been Walt Nauta, a U.S. Navy veteran who worked as a Trump White House valet and stayed with Trump after he left office.
Federal investigators had sought any classified documents Trump took with him after his presidency for several months before raiding his Mar-a-Lago home in August. Trump’s team had turned over some documents prior to the FBI raid. In particular, his team had turned over 38 documents after receiving a grand jury subpoena in June, but FBI agents found an additional 103 documents with classified markings after the August raid.
According to the Washington Post’s sources, investigators have gathered evidence that Trump told people to move boxes to his residence on Mar-a-Lago after his legal team received the subpoena.
The Washington Post’s sources said Nauta’s alleged testimony about Trump ordering him to move documents is a change from the story he initially told investigators. Nauta reportedly initially denied any role in moving boxes or sensitive documents.
After the Washington Post’s original report, the New York Times reported — also citing three unnamed people familiar with the investigation — that investigators had obtained security camera footage showing Nauta had moved boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago both before and after the federal subpoena for classified documents came through to the Trump team.
An attorney for Nauta declined a Washington Post request for comment, and Nauta has not responded to a Washington Post call seeking his comment.
The New York Times reported Nauta is not formally cooperating with the investigation.
Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich also did not answer specific Washington Post questions about the ongoing investigation but said Joe Biden’s administration “has weaponized law enforcement and fabricated a Document Hoax in a desperate attempt to retain political power.”
After the Washington Post asked about Nauta’s alleged account, Budowich accused the Biden administration of “colluding with the media through targeted leaks in an overt and illegal act of intimidation and tampering.”
Trump has insisted on several occasions that he had declassified all documents he took home with him after his presidency.