Trump Employee Warned of Charges in Classified Documents Case

A low-level employee of the Trump Organization has received a target letter from the special counsel Jack Smith in connection with the investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents, suggesting that the employee could face charges and confirming that the broader inquiry continues, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The employee, whom the person declined to name, received the letter in the past few weeks after appearing in May before a federal grand jury in Washington. Prosecutors have been trying to establish whether any of Mr. Trump’s aides or employees interfered with the government’s attempts to obtain security camera footage from Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s private club and residence in Florida.

Footage from the cameras at Mar-a-Lago has been at the center of the case against Mr. Trump and was an instrumental part of the evidence used to obtain a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago last August. During that search, the F.B.I. hauled away a trove of more than 100 classified documents that Mr. Trump had taken with him from the White House and kept even after receiving a subpoena demanding their return.

The surveillance footage was also key to the indictment that Mr. Smith’s office brought last month against Mr. Trump and his personal aide, Walt Nauta, in the Southern District of Florida. The indictment charges both men with conspiring to obstruct the government’s efforts to reclaim dozens of highly classified documents and Mr. Trump alone of illegally holding onto the documents after he left office.

Prosecutors use target letters to inform subjects of criminal investigations that they could be charged with crimes. Though it remains unclear what charges the Trump Organization employee could be facing, the special counsel’s office has been scrutinizing whether the employee’s grand jury testimony was truthful, the person familiar with the matter said.

The target letter sent to the employee was reported earlier by ABC News.

A lawyer for the employee, Stanley Woodward Jr., declined to comment on the letter.

As part of their continuing investigation, prosecutors have questioned additional witnesses and sought more surveillance camera footage, according to a person familiar with the matter. Prosecutors have also asked questions about boxes of documents being moved not only at Mar-a-Lago but also at other Trump-owned properties in Florida, including the Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, another person familiar with the matter said.

The New York Times recently reported that despite the charges filed against Mr. Trump and Mr. Nauta, the grand jury in Miami that returned the indictments was still issuing new subpoenas for documents, indicating the investigation was active. In a court filing on Thursday, Mr. Smith’s office confirmed that prosecutors had interviewed witnesses as recently as June 23 — a few weeks after Mr. Trump and Mr. Nauta were charged.

Prosecutors have charged that Mr. Trump played what amounted to a shell game with dozens of boxes of presidential records and classified material that had been kept in a basement storage area after initially being placed in various areas around Mar-a-Lago, including a ballroom and a bathroom.

The indictment charges that after a grand jury subpoena had been issued in May 2022 seeking the return of all classified materials in Mr. Trump’s possession, Mr. Nauta moved boxes in and out of the storage area on several occasions at Mr. Trump’s request, and that the number of boxes moved out was vastly greater than the number returned.

The case against Mr. Trump and Mr. Nauta is moving forward in court even as the investigation continues. The judge overseeing it, Aileen M. Cannon, will soon make a decision about when to schedule the trial — a question that could have important legal and political consequences.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers asked Judge Cannon this week to postpone the trial indefinitely, a move that could serve to push it until after the 2024 election. If that were to happen and Mr. Trump were to win the race, he could try to pardon himself after taking office or have his attorney general dismiss the case.

Prosecutors working for Mr. Smith responded on Thursday to the request for a delay, telling Judge Cannon there was “no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion.”


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