More details are being reported on why the FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
There are new revelations about what led up to the Justice Department's August search of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. That's according to reporting from The Washington Post.
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
A witness told authorities that the former president told them to move classified material from the resort to his private residence after he got a subpoena for the documents. And security camera footage reportedly corroborated that account. This all came before the FBI search of Trump's residence and private club, where investigators were looking for evidence of possible crimes.
FADEL: Devlin Barrett is one of the reporters who broke that story, speaking to people familiar with the investigation. And he joins us now. Good morning, Devlin.
DEVLIN BARRETT: Good morning, Leila.
FADEL: So let's start with how important this evidence is in the Justice Department's investigation.
BARRETT: So the folks I've spoken to describe it as very important parts of the evidence they gathered. You know, exactly how damaging it is, I think that's something that needs to be seen in the totality of all the evidence. And there's still more things we'd like to know. But it's been described to me as clearly very important to investigators.
FADEL: And within what we do know, what does it tell us about the case?
BARRETT: I think it tells us a couple things - one, that there is at least one witness who says Donald Trump told them directly to do something that is of concern to investigators, specifically move boxes at a key time in the investigation. Two, it tells us that there is important videotape evidence that buttresses at least part of that account. And one of the things we've known about this case for some time is that the videotape evidence is quite important, but we weren't really sure exactly why. This tells us the why that videotape evidence is important.
FADEL: Yeah. And how reliable is this witness? And you report in your story that the witness' statements changed dramatically when agents reinterviewed them multiple times, right?
BARRETT: Right. And that can happen sometimes in cases.
BARRETT: And it's certainly not fatal to credibility, but it can be an issue. And, I think, one of the things that we have yet to understand is, how problematic does the Justice Department and the FBI think that significant change is to their case and their investigation?
FADEL: Do you know anything about the employee's relationship to the former president, exactly what that relationship was or is?
BARRETT: Well, what's been described to us is that this person worked underneath Donald Trump and took instructions from them. And that was a regular part of their job. So I think this person certainly is in a position to know what some of those conversations were. But I think there's a lot more to understand about the exact parameters of the relationship.
FADEL: And what has the Trump camp said about this.
FADEL: So a Trump spokesperson told us that - when we asked for comment, they didn't really get into the specifics of what we were reporting. But they did say that, you know, this investigation has been part of a political attack by the Biden Justice Department, and argued that the Justice Department is treating Trump differently than past presidents have been treated on questions of documents. And to be clear, the National Archives has pushed back quite hard against any suggestion that what's at issue in the Trump case also existed for other presidents and other sets of documents.
FADEL: Devlin Barrett, thank you for your time.
BARRETT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.