Justice Department working with Trump source on Mar-a-Lago probe: report

Federal prosecutors have been working with an undisclosed witness and issuing subpoenas to Trump employees

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published May 5, 2023 12:58PM (EDT)

Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Federal prosecutors are working confidentially with a person who used to work for former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in their investigation of his handling of classified documents, sources with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times

The move is part of prosecutors' strengthening efforts to determine whether Trump ordered boxes containing classified materials to be moved out of the club's storage room while the government attempted to recover them, the sources said. Through new subpoenas and grand jury testimony, the Justice Department is also striving to clarify how the documents were stored, who was able to access them, how Mar-a-Lago's camera security system works and what Trump told his lawyers and aides about the location and content of the materials, they added.

Though the insider's identity has not been disclosed and the extent to which the witness has aided prosecutors is unclear, the witness has reportedly provided investigators with an image of the storage room in question, signifying what could be an important point in Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation of the former president.

Prosecutors are also trying to clarify their knowledge of the boxes' movement following their handling of Trump's valet Walt Nauta, a potential key witness whose lawyers cut contact with the government after prosecutors told them that Nauta was under investigation and could potentially be charged with a crime. Prosecutors believed that Nauta failed to fully and accurately account for his role in the movement of the materials.

Sources familiar with the matter told The Times that prosecutors have subpoenaed at least four other Mar-a-Lago employees -- two say nearly all of the employees -- as well as another person who had insight into Trump's thinking upon his initial return of documents to the National Archives. 

Prosecutors also subpoenaed the Trump Organization several times in search of additional surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago, Trump's residence and his private club, they added. In an effort to understand why some of the footage from the storage room's camera seems to be missing, prosecutors subpoenaed the company that handles the Trump organization's security footage and questioned a number of witnesses about the gaps.

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Adding to the prosecution's subpoenas was the recent one of longtime head of security turned COO of the Trump Organization Matthew Calamari Sr. and one from some time ago of his son, Trump Organization corporate director of security Matthew Calamari Jr., sources said, adding that both would be familiar with the security camera operations.

The Calamaris appeared before the grand jury on Thursday as jurors tried to gather evidence for the case.

The special counsel's office are seemingly looking into parts of Trump's family business as well, The Times reports citing people with knowledge of the actions, as prosecutors have subpoenaed the Trump Organization itself seeking an array of internal materials, including records of Trump's business with LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed professional golf venture that reportedly holds tournaments at some of his resorts.

A Trump spokesperson said the case is "a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt," adding that it was "concocted to meddle in an election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House." They went on to accuse the Special Counsel's office of harassing "anyone who has worked for President Trump" and targeting Trump's business.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Brief Classified Documents Donald Trump Jack Smith News U.s. Department Of Justice