Former President Donald Trump’s staff moved boxes the day before a June 2022 visit to his Mar-a-Lago residence by the FBI and a federal prosecutor, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News.
Trump’s team was aware of the scheduled June 2022 visit, and held a so-called dress rehearsal for the visit ahead of time, the source told CBS News. The Washington Post first reported the movement of the documents.
It’s unclear exactly what the boxes contained.
Over a month later, on Aug. 8, 2022, the FBI arrived unannounced at Mar-a-Lago with a search warrant and combed through the estate, retrieving allegedly classified documents. Trump was not alerted about that August search, which he has repeatedly called a “raid.”
Special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing the Justice Department’s criminal investigations into Trump, including into Trump’s handling of classified information after his presidency.
“This is nothing more than a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump that is concocted to meddle in an election and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said of allegations that Trump employees moved boxes before a visit from the feds. “… In the course of negotiations over the return of documents, President Trump told the lead DOJ official, ‘anything you need from us, just let us know.’ That DOJ rejected this offer of cooperation and conducted a raid on Mar-a-Lago proves that the Biden regime has weaponized the DOJ and FBI.”
Former Attorney General Bill Barr told CBS News last week that the documents investigation poses the biggest legal threat to Trump.
“It doesn’t go a lot on intent or anything like that. It’s very clear that he had no business having those documents,” Barr said. “He was given a long time to send them back. And they were subpoenaed. And I’ve said all along that he wouldn’t get in trouble, probably, just for taking them, just as Biden I don’t think is going to get in trouble or Pence is not going to get in trouble.”
Trump has defended his handling of government documents post-presidency, even those that are classified. Last year he said presidents have the ability to declassify documents “even by thinking about it.”
“I was there and I took what I took and it gets declassified,” the former president told CNN’s Kaitlin Collins in a town hall earlier this month.