The 37-count indictment accusing Donald Trump of illegally hoarding classified documents used a wealth of surveillance footage, private conversations, employees’ text messages, audio-taped meetings, and witness statements to make a damning case.
But the 44-page document also included a half-dozen images of the documents themselves, stacked in boxes next to a toilet, spilling out onto the floor of a storage room, and piled up in rows on the stage of a ballroom at Trump’s resort in South Florida.
“The Mar-a-Lago Club was an active social club, which, between January 2021 and August 2022, hosted events for tens of thousands of members and guests,” the feds wrote in the indictment. “After Trump’s presidency, The Mar-a-Lago Club was not an authorized location for the storage, posession, review, display or discussion of classified documeents. Nevertheless, Trump stores his boxes containing classified documents in various locations… including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.”
In one exchange outlined in the indictment and backed up with a photograph, Trump employees discussed moving some of Trump’s boxes of documents out of a Mar-a-Lago business center and into a bathroom instead so staff could use the business center as an office.
“Woah!! Ok so potus specifically asked Walt for those boxes to be in the business center because they are his ‘papers,’” one Trump employee texted to another, referencing Walt Nauta.
The two employees then went back and forth discussing what they could move to storage. “There is still a little room in the shower where his other stuff is,” one employee texted. “Is it only his papers he cares about? Theres some other stuff in there that are not papers. Could that go to storage? Or does he want everything in there on property.”
“Yes,” the second employee responds. “Anything that’s not the beautiful mind paper boxes can definitely go to storage.”
In another instance in May 2021, Trump told staff to move some of his boxes to a storage room, the indictment says. Images show the boxes stacked up in the storage room as well as a hallway leading to the room that prosecutors say could easily be reached from Mar-a-Lago’s pool patio. The storage room was right next to a liquor supply closet and a linen room.
In December 2021, Trump’s personal aide, Walt Nauta, found that some of those 80 boxes had fallen over and their contents spilled out on the floor.
Among the papers scattered around the storage room were, according to the indictment, a document marked “SECRET//REL TO USA//FVEY” which denoted information releasable only to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance of the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
“I opened the door and found this…,” Nauta texted another Trump employee, along with two photos, one of which was included in the indictment with the visible classified information redacted.
According to the indictment, the Trump employee replied, “Oh no oh no,” and “I’m sorry potus had my phone.”
Trump faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly putting the nation’s safety at risk by keeping hundreds of classified records, spilling secrets to boast of his immense power as a former commander-in-chief, and orchestrating a campaign to block the feds from getting them back.
The Daily Beast