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In the historic federal indictment of Donald Trump unsealed on Friday, prosecutors laid out detailed allegations about how boxes filled with classified information were shuffled around his Mar-a-Lago residence after he left the presidency.
At various times between January 2021 and last August, when the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, the boxes were stored in ballroom, a bathroom, an office space, Trump’s bedroom and a storage room, prosecutors say.
The sweeping 37-count indictment paints a grim portrait of Trump’s treatment of sensitive information, accusing him of intentionally defying Justice Department demands to return documents he had taken from the White House.
Trump was charged alongside Walt Nauta, an aide and close adviser whom prosecutors say ferried boxes of classified information around Mar-a-Lago, and later lied to investigators about the movement.
The indictment points out that, during the 19 months over which the boxes were moved, stacked, spilled, and shuffled, tens of thousands of guests attended events at the Mar-a-Lago club, including weddings, fundraisers and parties.
Prosecutors laid out detailed allegations about how boxes filled with classified information were shuffled around Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence after he left the presidency. At different times, the boxes were stored in the resort’s ballroom, a storage room, the Pine Room – an entry room in Trump’s residence , the business center and the bathroom of the Lake Room
Prosecutors laid out detailed allegations about how boxes filled with classified information were shuffled around his Mar-a-Lago residence after Trump left the presidency
The sweeping 37-count indictment paints a grim portrait of Trump’s treatment of sensitive information
Trump has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and is due to make his first court appearance on Tuesday in federal court in Miami, where the case was filed.
Here is the timeline of the Mar-a-Lago boxes, according to prosecutors:
January 20, 2021
Trump’s term as president ended at noon.
As he left office, Trump ordered scores of boxes to be sent from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his personal residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
Prosecutors say that many of those boxes contained classified documents that he was not authorized to possess after leaving office.
They also note that Mar-a-Lago, in addition to being Trump’s residence, is an ‘active social club’ filled with the comings and goings of thousands of members, employees and guests.
‘The Mar-a-Lago Club was not an authorized location for the storage, possession, review, display, or discussion of classified documents,’ the indictment states.
‘Nevertheless, Trump stored his boxes containing classified documents in various locations at the Mar-a-Lago Club — including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage space,’ it adds.
January 20 to March 15, 2021
‘Some’ of Trump’s boxes were stored in Mar-a-Lago’s White and Gold Ballroom, where an evidence photo shows them stacked on the ballroom’s stage.
The club’s website describes the ‘elegant’ White & Gold Ballroom as being ideal for ‘smaller soirées’.
From January 20 to March 15, 2021 some of Trump’s boxes were stored in Mar-a-Lago’s White and Gold Ballroom, where this evidence photo shows them stacked on the ballroom’s stage
Trump was charged alongside Walt Nauta (above), an aide and close adviser who prosecutors say ferried boxes of classified information around Mar-a-Lago
For reasons unspecified in the indictment, Nauta and other employees moved Trump’s boxes from the ballroom to the business center at the Mar-a-Lago Club.
April 5, 2021
In a text message, a Trump employee asked another employee about the possibility of moving boxes from business center to storage, so staff could use the business center as an office.
The second employee responded with concern, writing: ‘Whoa!! Ok so potus specifically asked Walt for those boxes to be in the business center because they are his “papers.”‘
In further text exchanges, the employees agreed to move some of the boxes into ‘a little room in the shower where his other stuff is’ off the club’s Lake Room.
Some of the boxes were then moved from the business center to a bathroom and shower in Mar-a-Lago’s Lake Room.
In April 2021, boxes were moved into a bathroom and shower in Mar-a-Lago’s Lake Room
Trump ordered that a storage room on ground floor of Mar-a-Lago club be cleaned out to store the boxes
The storage room has multiple entries, including one from a hallway that opened on the Mar-a-Lago Club pool patio, through a door that was often unlocked.
The storage room was located near the liquor supply closet, linen room, lock shop and various other rooms.
Also at this point, some boxes are moved to Trump’s Bedminster Club in New Jersey, where he typically spends his summers.
Prosecutors say that the Bedminster Club is where Trump displayed and discussed classified records with visitors on two occasions, on July 21, 2021, and again that August or September.
Also in May 2021, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) began demanding Trump turn over presidential records that he had kept after his presidency.
The Presidential Records Act requires that all records created by presidents, as well as vice-presidents, be turned over to NARA immediately at the end of their administrations.
June 24, 2021
Trump’s boxes in the bathroom of the Lake Room are moved into the storage room.
More than 80 boxes were kept in the storage room after the move.
On June 24, 2021 Trump’s boxes in the bathroom of the Lake Room are moved into this storage room on the first floor of the Mar-a-Lago club
The storage room (above) was located near the liquor supply closet, linen room, lock shop and various other rooms
December 7, 2021
Nauta found boxes spilled in the storage room, including documents with classification markings.
‘I opened the door and found this…’ Nauta wrote in a text message to another Trump employee, attaching photos of the spilled boxes.
‘Oh no oh no,’ the other employee replied, adding ‘I’m sorry potus had my phone.’
One document bore the header SECRET//REL TO USA, FVEY, indicating that the document was only releasable to the Five Eyes intelligence community of the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
November 21, 2021
A Trump employee provided Trump a photograph of the Mar-a-Lago storage room so he could see how many of his boxes were stacked against the wall.
December 7, 2021, Nauta found these boxes spilled in the storage room, and texted this photo of the incident to a fellow staffer. Visible classified information was redacted from this photo by the DOJ prior to its release
On November 21, 2021 a Trump employee provided Trump this photograph of the Mar-a-Lago storage room so he could see how many of his boxes were stacked against the wall.
November 25, 2021
A Trump employee text Nauta asking about Trump’s work reviewing his boxes in Pine Hall, a room in his private residence at Mar-a-Lago.
‘Has he mentioned boxes to you? I delivered some, but I think he may need more. Could you ask if he’d like more in pine hall?’ the worker texted.
Nauta replied in three short messages:
Nothing about boxes yet
He has one he’s working on in pine hall
Knocked out 2 boxes yesterday
November 29 2021-January 15, 2022
Nauta and other Trump employees are involved in a number of text message conversations about the ‘boxes’.
The conversations include discussion about Trump reviewing the contents, and how many of the boxes should be handed over to the National Archives.
January 17, 2022
A Trump employee and and Nauta gathered 15 boxes from Trump’s residence and took them to a commercial truck for delivery to NARA.
Trump provided only 15 boxes, of which 14 contained a total of 197 documents with classification markings.
They included 98 documents marked Secret, 30 marked Top Secret, and the remainder were marked Confidential.
NARA contacted the Justice Department on February 9 to report the discovery of the classified documents.
On March 30, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into the unlawful retention of classified documents at the Mar-a-Lago Club.
A federal grand jury investigation began the following month and issued a subpoena on May 11.
On March 30, 2022, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into the unlawful retention of classified documents at the Mar-a-Lago Club. A federal grand jury issued a subpoena on May 11
May 22, 2022
Nauta entered the storage room and left approximately 34 minutes later, carrying one of Trump’s boxes.
The following day, Trump met with his attorneys to discuss the grand jury subpoena.
According to notes taken by one of the attorneys, Trump made remarks including:
‘I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t, I don’t want you looking through my boxes.’
‘What happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?’
‘Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?’
Between the May 23 meeting with attorneys and June 2, prosecutors say that Nauta transported 64 boxes from the storage room to Trump’s residence.
During the same period, Nauta moved about 30 boxes from the residence to the storage room.
On June 2, one of Trump’s attorney’s arrived at Mar-a-Lago and reviewed the boxes in the storage room for classified material.
June 3, 2022
After completing his review of the storage room boxes, Trump’s attorney handed over to the FBI 38 more documents with classification markings.
But according to the indictment, many of the boxes that Nauta moved out of the storage room prior to the attorney’s search were not searched at all for documents responsive to the May 11 subpoena.
At Trump’s attorney’s handed over the classified documents they found to the FBI, Nauta and other Trump employees were loading some of the boxes onto a plane for Trump’s trip north to Bedminster for the summer.
August 8, 2022
Acting on a court-authorized search warrant, an FBI raid recovered 102 more documents with classified markings from Trump’s office and a storage room at Mar-a-Lago Club.
The FBI seized 27 documents from Trump’s office, including six marked Top Secret, 18 marked Secret, and 3 marked confidential.
From the storage room, the FBI seized another 75 documents, including 11 marked Top Secret, 36 marked Secret, and 28 marked Confidential.