Trump brushed off warnings he’d be charged in documents case: Unsealed filings

Former President Trump brushed off warnings he could be charged for keeping classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence, promising to pardon one of his now co-defendants if charges were filed, according to new court documents.

The details, laid out in unsealed documents as part of a broader legal battle in the Mar-a-Lago case, lay bare the candid advice from an unnamed witness as well as other details about the federal investigation.

The witness, identified only as Person 16 in the documents, told Trump he should cooperate with federal investigators looking for classified documents, saying doing so could prevent him from being indicted.

“Whatever you have, give everything back. Let them come here and get everything,” the witness said they told Trump. “Don’t give them a noble reason to indict you, because they will.”

But Trump seemed unfazed, according to the witness, who said the ex-president gave a “weird ‘you’re the man’ type of response” to the warnings.

The witness refused to have their conversation with the FBI recorded out of fear of reprisal. The summary of the interview describes them as someone with a security clearance and daily access to the Oval Office.

Former President Donald Trump leaves Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in New York. (Curtis Means/ via AP, Pool)

The interview counters a defense from Trump that there was a standard order to declassify anything the former president had, with the witness saying they heard that for the first time only after Trump was facing charges.

The witness said they urged Trump multiple times to return the records being sought then by the National Archives, telling Trump something to the effect of it “was not worth all that aggravation.”

The witness also said they had urged Trump’s children to give him the same warning, noting that the former president “sometimes needed to be messaged the same thing from multiple people close to him.”

“There are issues with the boxes. They belong to the government, talk to your dad and about giving them back” the witness said he had told Trump’s children.

The witness also addressed conversations with Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, who has since been charged with aiding the former president in moving boxes as well as for lying to investigators.

The witness said Nauta was told by those close to Trump that the documents case was politically motivated and “much ado about nothing” and that even if he faced charges for lying to the bureau, Trump would pardon him in 2024.

The filings offer up other details about the investigation, including that it was code-named Plasmic Echo.

The witness also stated that Trump only hired attorney James Trusty after seeing him on TV.

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The court documents were released by prosecutors to answer claims from Trump that he is facing a political prosecution and thus needs access to communications from special counsel Jack Smith’s team.

The filing says prosecutors must “clear the air on those issues … because the defendants’ misstatements, if unanswered, leave a highly misleading impression.”

“Their apparent aim is to cast a cloud of suspicion over responsible actions by government officials diligently doing their jobs. The defendants’ insinuations have scant factual or legal relevance to their discovery requests, but they should not stand uncorrected,” prosecutors wrote.

“Put simply, the Government here confronted an extraordinary situation: a former President engaging in calculated and persistent obstruction of the collection of Presidential records, which, as a matter of law, belong to the United States.”

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