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'Trump Employee 5' says classified docs case no 'witch hunt’

A Mar-a-Lago club employee at the center of former President Trump’s classified documents case said Monday that the matter isn’t a “witch hunt,” pushing back on political attacks from Trump and his allies.

Brian Butler, known as “Trump Employee 5” in court records, told CNN on Monday that he rejects Trump’s assertions that the criminal obstruction charges brought against him are politically motivated, and outlined how he unknowingly participated in transporting boxes of classified documents.

He described how the criminal case against Trump shook him, and broke his relationship with defendant Carlos de Oliveira, who he described as a close friend.

“I felt like it was a total no-win situation for me. I mean, they’re asking me questions about one of my best friends. I’m being honest. But I also have a bad feeling that what I’m saying is getting him into trouble,” Butler told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

“Nobody should have to go through that,” he said. “And for [Trump] to get up there all the time and say the things he says about this being a witch hunt and everything. … He just can’t take responsibility for anything.” 

Butler described how Trump co-defendant Walt Nauta made a strange request for his help in June 2022, to move boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago onto a waiting private jet. 

He said he had “no idea” that the 10-15 boxes he moved with Nauta and de Oliveira contained classified material. It was the same day federal investigators met with Trump’s attorneys, looking for the documents.

“They were the boxes that were in the indictment, the white bankers boxes. That’s what I remember loading,” he said.

Butler has turned into a key witness for special counsel Jack Smith, refusing to use an attorney supplied by the Trump legal team as Nauta and de Oliveira have. He told CNN that he was the source that informed prosecutors of the alleged leak of classified information to Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt in 2021.

Trump’s attorneys have long attempted to toss out and delay the classified documents case, which charges Trump with 40 felony counts including mishandling classified information and obstruction of justice.

In a filing last week, Smith fought against Trump’s defenses, claiming that the he is not immune from prosecution due to his status as the former president.

Prosecutors have also drawn a stark difference between the case and the classified document investigation against former President Biden, arguing that Trump made “extensive and repeated efforts to obstruct justice and thwart the return of documents bearing classification markings.”

Smith has proposed an early July trial date for the case.

Source: The Hill

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