Trump and His Mar-a-Lago Co-Defendants Switch Tactics

Reuters/Curtis Means
Reuters/Curtis Means

Attorneys for Donald Trump’s co-defendants appeared to switch direction in a motion Tuesday, seemingly arguing that FBI agents weren’t thorough enough in their search of the ex-president’s Mar-a-Lago estate when they retrieved top-secret documents from there in 2022.

The abrupt about-face—after over a year of Trump and his allies decrying the search itself as “unconstitutional” and invasive—referred to the fact that federal investigators missed a “hidden room” near Trump’s bedroom and a locked closet during their search of the premises, both of which may have contained classified documents.

Now, attorneys for Trump co-defendant Walt Nauta—and on behalf of Carlos De Oliveira and Trump himself—have demanded that Special Counsel Jack Smith cough up “records concerning the FBI’s apparent failure to search several areas of President Trump’s residence during their execution of a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago.”

If approved, the request would require Smith’s team to hand over any internal government communications related to the search of Mar-a-Lago that reference these hidden rooms—which they allege were known to the FBI prior to its raid.

Jack Smith Laid a Trap for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Judge. Cannon Didn’t Take It.

The defense is apparently using the government oversight to argue that their own obstruction charges are invalid, thanks to feds’ willful “ignorance” about the existence of the room they missed in their search.

“Indeed, the only explanation for this failure is that the [special counsel office] intends to rely on its ignorance of what was in former President Trump’s residence as part of its pitch to the jury that boxes were moved for the purpose of concealing their contents from the investigation,” the motion said.

In all, Trump faces a whopping 40 felony charges in the classified documents case, most of which stem from materials found stacked inside Mar-a-Lago that were allegedly swiped from the White House. The most serious charge carries a penalty that could put Trump in federal prison for up to 20 years if convicted.

Nauta, a valet for Trump, and De Oliveira, the property manager at Mar-a-Lago, also face charges for allegedly scheming to conceal surveillance footage from federal investigators and lying about it. Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira have each pleaded not guilty.

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