FBI interview transcript reveals how Trump aide characterized boxes at Mar-a-Lago to investigators


The transcript of an FBI interview made public late Thursday details how an aide to former President Donald Trump characterized the boxes of sensitive documents that are now at the center of the special counsel’s case into the mishandling of classified documents from the Trump White House.

The new court documents also reveal how agents outlined the stakes of their investigation to Walt Nauta, who now faces several obstruction-related charges in the case.

For much of the May 2022 interview, Nauta describes the layout of Mar-a-Lago, what he claimed to know about where boxes of Trump’s items from the White House were stored and his assessment of what was in the boxes. The former president’s valet repeatedly claims that he believed Trump stored news clippings, hairspray, shampoo, picture frames and other miscellaneous materials in the boxes.

Nauta has been charged with conspiring to conceal documents as well as lying to the FBI in his interview about the location and movement of boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago. He has pleaded not guilty.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon granted Nauta permission to file a version of the transcript with minor redactions ahead of a hearing Friday where he will argue that special counsel Jack Smith’s charges against him should be thrown out.

According to the transcript, investigators at one point in the interview ask Nauta whether he was aware of Trump showing a document with classified markings to people while on a plane. No such event was alleged in the indictment against Trump.

Nauta told investigators he was not aware of nor had he heard of any such incident. He noted to investigators that he normally sat at the back of the plane when traveling with the former president.

CNN has reached out to representatives for Trump for comment.

Early in the 100-plus page transcript, the FBI agents laid out for Nauta, who served in the military, why they were interested in the whereabouts of any sensitive government documents, as they stressed that even the most minor details could be helpful to their review.

The agents added that they were trying to figure out if classified documents were “at least kept in a somewhat controlled environment” or “could they have been exposed to a foreign intelligence service.”

The agents said that if certain information may have been compromised then they would need to inform intelligence agencies who could determine whether to shut down certain operations.

“Like it’s not worth the risk, we’ve got to shut it down because we don’t want, we don’t want these people’s lives to be on the line, we don’t want, like, people to, to know that our ships have these capabilities,” one FBI agent said.

The agent added: “But it would be a lot easier if we can tell them for sure X, Y and Z so they know exactly what needs to be shut down and what doesn’t, right? So that’s kind of the reason why we’re looking into this.”

Nauta denied telling Trump that he was sitting for the interview, and according to the transcript, Nauta said he told Trump that he was going for a run.

Read the full transcript below:

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