Surveillance footage from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida allegedly showed that dozens of boxes were moved in the days before investigators from the Department of Justice visited the resort to retrieve records.
The Justice Department has now made public the photographic and video evidence they collected last summer from Mr Trump’s estate.
“Video footage reflects that evidence has been moved recently,” prosecutors wrote in the court record.
“It cannot be seen on the video footage where the boxes were moved when they were taken from the storage room area, and accordingly, the current location of the boxes that were removed from the storage room area but not returned to it is unknown,” they said, according to CNN.
The FBI’s search affidavit, which still has several pages of redactions, describes with more public detail what prosecutors could see on surveillance footage outside a basement storage room at Mar-a-Lago, where the classified documents were kept in boxes.
The affidavit also includes at least one photo of boxes stacked in a room and, according to local media, captures how investigators believed boxes from Trump’s presidency were “relocated”.
The affidavit said the FBI’s review of footage showed a person moving boxes of documents around the estate throughout 2022, including on 1 June 2022, when he was “observed carrying eleven brown cardboard boxes out the Anteroom entrance. One box did not have a lid on it and appeared to contain papers”.
“The day after that, on 2 June 2022, witness 5 is observed moving twenty-five to thirty boxes, some of which were brown cardboard boxes and others of which were Bankers boxes consistent with the description of the FPotus Boxes, into the entrance of the Anteroom,” the filing stated.
The new revelations reveal more details of what prosecutors knew before they had asked for the Trump property to be searched.
In May, a report had said that two staffers of the ex-president moved boxes of documents just a day before the Department of Justice visited Mr Trump’s Florida property.
The timing of the move by the Trump employees was considered suspect by authorities and signs that obstruction of justice might have taken place, said the Washington Post report earlier this May.
The report also claimed the former president and his associates held a “dress rehearsal” for moving the files before getting a subpoena in May last year, WaPo had reported citing anonymous sources.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung had then said that this was “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”.
“Just like all the other fake hoaxes thrown at President Trump, this corrupt effort will also fail,” he said and claimed the Justice Department had conducted its Mar-a-Lago raid despite the Trump team saying, “anything you need from us, just let us know”, according to Mr Cheung.
Just a month after the May report, Mr Trump was slapped with 37 counts in a federal indictment, including obstruction of justice corruptly concealing documents, concealing documents in a federal investigation, scheme to conceal, and making false statements.
Thirty one of these counts related to each document alleged in his possession, while five counts relate to Mr Trump concealing them, and two counts relate to false statements, making the ex-president the first current or former president to be arrested on federal charges in the history of America.
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