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‘Trump Employee 5’ Says Former President Should End 2024 Run

CNN
CNN

A longtime valet at Mar-a-Lago whose witness testimony helped investigators charge Donald Trump over his alleged efforts to illegally hoard and hide classified documents is speaking out for the first time about his involvement with the case, telling CNN on Monday that his former boss should quit his 2024 presidential campaign, and that he doesn’t believe the felony charges against Trump constitute “a witch hunt.”

Brian Butler, 41, worked for two decades as a club valet, chauffeur, and manager at Trump’s South Florida estate, and was at one point best friends with property manager Carlos De Oliveira. (De Oliveira and another Trump employee, Walt Nauta, both face criminal charges alongside the former president.)

Butler is repeatedly referenced as “Trump Employee 5” in a federal superseding indictment, which outlines his role in allegedly helping to obstruct and conceal Trump’s hoarded material. He told CNN that he had had “no clue” he was shifting national secrets.

“For me, I’m just thinking, eh, the former president, he has a lot of stuff he likes to lug around with him,” Butler said of how he justified being told to move “10 to 15” boxes onto a plane at one point. Those boxes were the same white bankers boxes later included as evidence in the indictment, stored in a ballroom, bathroom, and various other unsecured locations around Mar-a-Lago.

Butler is most prominently featured in the indictment because of the suggestion that Trump may have dangled the promise of legal representation as a reward for securing De Oliveira’s loyalty. Two weeks after the FBI executed a search warrant at the resort in August 2022, according to the indictment, Nauta called “Trump Employee 5” to check in and “make sure Carlos is good,” in reference to De Oliveira. The employee, Butler, twice reassured Nauta that De Oliveira was loyal to Trump.

Butler said that he was with De Oliveira at a Florida casino food court when the call came in that Trump would provide him with a lawyer. De Oliveira hung up “happily,” according to CNN. Butler explained he later resisted efforts by De Oliveira to get him to accept an attorney through Trump, and secured legal representation elsewhere.

Butler told CNN that what is included in the indictment is just a small snippet of what he knows about what transpired at Mar-a-Lago that year. He is likely to share more when called to testify in court against Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira.

“I felt like it was a total no-win situation for me. I mean, they’re asking me questions about one of my best friends,” Butler said. “I’m being honest. But I also have a bad feeling that what I’m saying is getting him into trouble. Nobody should have to go through that. And for [Trump] to get up there all the time and say the things he says about this being a witch hunt and everything… He just can’t take responsibility for anything.”

When asked if he views Trump as a national security risk, Butler was critical of his former boss.

“I personally would just say I just don’t believe that he should be a presidential candidate at this time,” he said. “I think it’s time to move on.”

When The Source anchor Kaitlan Collins began to ask if people should feel “concerned,” Butler immediately agreed.

“Yeah, absolutely. I think we can do better,” Butler said, adding later of the Mar-a-Lago case that the American people “have the right to know the facts.”

Butler went on to criticize Trump’s stated defense in the case as “all bogus,” and lamented that “people believe him” nevertheless.

Butler continued: “To me, you have the ‘law and order’ president attacking agents, the special counsel on almost a daily basis, when these people are just taking their sworn oath—they took a sworn oath to basically follow the laws of this country. And now you have somebody attacking them. I don’t think that’s right.”

Trump has denied wrongdoing in the case, and his lawyer declined to comment to CNN. An attorney for De Oliveira, who has also pleaded not guilty, told the network in a statement, “We look forward to hearing more about Mr. Butler’s version of events when he is under oath and subject to penalty of perjury in the courtroom where that belongs, and we decline to try this case in the media.”

Butler quit his job at Mar-a-Lago in November 2022, feeling disillusioned. Federal investigators descended on him and De Oliveira four months later, when the pair were still “nearly inseparable,” as CNN put it. They frequently took evening walks together as prosecutors sniffed around. During one of these walks, Butler said, De Oliveira told him they were “all dirty,” having moved the boxes around for their boss.

These days, he said, he only sees De Oliveira around the neighborhood and on the news. The two don’t speak.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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