Former Trump aide faces Miami grand jury in classified-documents probe

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A former aide to Donald Trump appeared Wednesday before a federal grand jury in Miami as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into whether the former president mishandled classified documents or obstructed government efforts to retrieve them after leaving office.

Taylor Budowich, a former Trump spokesman who now leads a pro-Trump super PAC, was seen arriving at the federal courthouse in Miami on Wednesday morning, CNN reported. Neither Budowich nor his attorney answered reporters’ questions upon their arrival, according to CNN.

At least one other witness appeared before the same grand jury last month, as well, said two people familiar with the situation, who like others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door grand jury proceedings.

The Miami grand jury appearances come after at least one federal grand jury panel in Washington has heard months of testimony in the Trump documents probe, which involves the question of whether the former president improperly kept classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home and private club, or obstructed government efforts to retrieve them.

The reason for launching a parallel grand jury in Florida is not publicly known, though it could mean federal prosecutors are considering bringing charges there, instead of or in addition to Washington.

Spokesmen for Smith, who was appointed special counsel in November, and for the Justice Department have refused to comment on the investigation because it is ongoing.

Trump’s lawyers met with Smith and a senior Justice Department official at Justice Department headquarters in Washington on Monday to make the case that their client should not be charged, people familiar with the matter said. Such meetings often happen as federal investigations get close to finishing.

Trump advisers briefed after the meeting said they believe Smith will finalize a charging decision in coming weeks and that they are preparing for a potential indictment of the former president, who has denied any wrongdoing.

The government’s examination of Trump’s retention of classified documents began with the National Archives and Records Administration, which spent months after Trump left the White House seeking the return of presidential records — historical documents that are government property and that were not transferred to the Archives.

Fifteen boxes of papers from Mar-a-Lago were sent to the Archives in early 2022, where archivists discovered more than 100 classified documents scattered among the various items. After further questioning about whether Trump had more classified papers at his Florida home, his legal team handed over another 38 documents last June in response to a grand jury subpoena. An FBI search of Mar-a-Lago two months later turned up more than 100 additional documents and items marked classified.

The evidence examined so far by investigators in Washington includes surveillance video showing boxes of documents being moved the day before the visit by a federal prosecutor at Mar-a-Lago, and an audio recording of Trump talking about having an apparently classified document in his possession.

Amy B Wang and Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.

Trump Mar-a-Lago classified documents

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