According to reports, a federal court has ordered Donald Trump’s attorneys to disclose the names of the private detectives who were hired to examine four of the former president’s residences for sensitive information.
According to The New York Times, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on Wednesday that Trump’s legal team must provide the government with the names of the private investigators it hired in late 2017 to conduct searches for any potential leftover papers taken from the White House.
According to CNN, the private investigators’ identities were given to the authorities on Wednesday night.
As they have done with other members of Trump’s closest circle, prosecutors may now opt to decide to interrogate the investigators as part of the criminal investigation.
The federal government’s continued efforts to persuade Trump and his administration to return any classified papers that were ostensibly taken from the White House when Trump left office in January 2021 have taken a new turn with Howell’s ruling.
After receiving a subpoena for the former president to hand up the classified records in May, the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in August and found more than 100 documents, among them those designated top secret.
A federal effort to recover the materials was launched months after the criminal investigation into claims Trump mishandled the classified materials discovered at his Florida home, and two additional documents with classified markings were discovered at a storage facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, just before Thanksgiving.
Two private detectives hired by Trump’s legal team to examine Trump Tower in New York, Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, and a Florida office also turned up the records.
The FBI was subsequently given documents that were seized from the storage unit by Trump’s attorneys, who also stated in June when federal agents visited Mar-a-Lago before the August raid that they think all classified items have been returned.
Prosecutors, however, were dissatisfied with Trump’s and his legal counsel’s cooperation in the criminal investigation and requested Judge Howell to place the former president’s office in contempt of court for disobeying the subpoena requiring the delivery of all White House materials.
In December, Howell declined to declare Trump’s administration to be in contempt.
Walt Nauta, a Mar-a-Lago valet driver, is said to have been instructed by Trump to move boxes of paperwork into a Mar-a-Lago storage room after the former president got a federal subpoena to surrender the classified information. Prosecutors have previously questioned Nauta.
A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. has also extended immunity to Kash Patel, a close aide to Trump, so he may testify about how the president handled the secret data.