The employee who helped move classified documents spoke out

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In light of the fact that voters should know the truth about their former employer and the case prior to the November election, a longtime Mar-a-Lago employee who is a key witness in the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents is now speaking in public.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Brian Butler, who is referred to as “Trump Employee 5” in the classified documents indictment brought by special counsel Jack Smith, stated that he does not think the criminal case against Trump is a “witch hunt,” as the former president has claimed.

Butler provided testimony to federal investigators that was instrumental in the filing of criminal obstruction charges against Trump and his two co-defendants, Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira and Trump personal assistant Walt Nauta, last year. Until recently, Butler’s closest friend was Carlos De Oliveira.

Brian Butler, on the right, and former president Donald Trump pose for a picture at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida in July 2022. obtained by CNN.

While his former boss has been named in multiple federal investigations, Butler, who worked at Mar-a-Lago for 20 years, has spoken with investigators on multiple occasions, paid for his own attorney, and broken away from the Trump orbit he is familiar with. These actions have set Butler apart from his former coworkers and friends.

Butler revealed to CNN how, in June 2022, he unintentionally assisted Nauta in delivering boxes of classified material from Mar-a-Lago to the former president’s aircraft. That same day, Trump and his legal team were meeting at Mar-a-Lago with the Justice Department regarding the classified materials.

On that June 3, 2022, day, Butler recalls receiving what seemed like an odd request from Nauta. The latter asked if Butler’s Mar-a-Lago car service would allow him to borrow an Escalade. Butler and his valets usually took care of getting Trump and his family’s luggage onto the plane as they prepared to depart for their summer vacation to New Jersey.

But Butler notes that Nauta’s request for the car was out of the ordinary because, generally speaking, Nauta handled no moving of luggage and approached Butler with caution when asking for the car.

Butler claims that before bringing the car to the West Palm Beach airport, Nauta and De Oliveira loaded it up. The Trump family’s belongings were loaded into the Escalade along with bankers boxes of documents, which the butler helped Nauta load onto the president’s aircraft when he arrived with his own car loaded down. Butler claims he was unaware that anything unusual was contained in the bankers boxes.

I departed from Mar-a-Lago. I texted him and said, “Hey, I’m on my way.”. He trailed after me. Following me, he got out of his car. We arrived at the airfield. He had a lot of boxes, so I ended up packing everything I owned,” Butler remarked of Nauta.

“Those were the white bankers’ boxes found in the indictment. That’s what I recall loading,” Butler continued.

Butler resigned from his position as club manager and valet in August 2022, three months after the FBI had taken hundreds of government records from Mar-a-Lago. Part of his reason for leaving was a growing desire to relocate.

Butler claims that, having closely monitored the criminal case’s progress, he has contemplated going public with his involvement in the obstruction case against Trump for months. In an effort to dispel any doubts people may have about the case’s facts, Butler claims he made the decision to speak with CNN exclusively in West Palm Beach on Monday.

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The indictment from the Justice Department refers to Butler—who has not before been publicly identified—as “Trump Employee 5” six times. Butler claims to have already shared all of the information he knows with the prosecution, providing them with a glimpse into situations in which other witnesses may have been coy or allegedly deceptive. The allusions made to him in the indictment only scratch the surface of what he may be asked to discuss on the witness stand.

Both Trump and Nauta’s attorneys declined to comment to CNN. John Irving, a lawyer for De Oliveira, issued a statement saying, “We decline to try this case in the media and look forward to hearing more about Mr. Butler’s version of events when he is under oath and subject to the penalty of perjury in the courtroom where that belongs.”. “.

Additionally, the spokeswoman for the special counsel’s office refrained from comment.

An unannounced visitation to Florida.

Butler was also present for multiple talks that are said to show how Trump was arranging De Oliveira, Nauta, and other close aides to obstruct federal investigators.

In late June 2022, for example, De Oliveira told Butler that Nauta was going to Palm Beach. At the time, according to the indictment, Nauta and De Oliveira were allegedly interested in erasing surveillance tapes from a storage room where the boxes had been kept at the club.

Butler remembers that Nauta would be paying him a visit, as disclosed by De Oliveira. Subsequently, after a day, De Oliveira cautioned Butler to keep Nauta’s visit a secret. Another strange thing, according to Butler, was that De Oliveira informed him that Nauta was curious about how the club’s security footage would be preserved.

With the clarity that only Trump’s indictment could provide, he claims he now looks back on his final few months at Mar-a-Lago. According to Butler, Trump and Nauta’s actions toward him now make sense, much like a puzzle piece that has come together, particularly on the days when investigators were asking Trump for details.

The veteran valet.

Having grown up in South Florida, Butler, 41, is an apt storyteller for the Trump world.

Having known Trump since 2002, he is able to recollect in-depth discussions he had at Mar-a-Lago with him, his family, and visitors. At the club, Butler worked primarily with De Oliveira, one of his closest friends. They used to enjoy each other’s birthday celebrations off-site or sing karaoke together.

Butler’s cell phone is filled with years’ worth of text messages and pictures from his close pals. He gained a thorough understanding of the inner workings of Trump’s orbit during his time chauffeuring numerous guests and members of the Trump family.

Donald Trump and Brian Butler are pictured here in 2002 during a Mar-a-Lago Christmas party in Palm Beach, Florida. Credit: Acquired by CNN.

The native of Florida started working for Trump 21 years ago as a seasonal valet at Mar-a-Lago, earning just over $30,000 annually. A few years later, Butler, a man full of ideas and enthusiasm, personally approached Trump about launching a car service for guests visiting his South Florida properties. Butler has started a number of businesses to help support his family, this one among them.

For ten years, he says, the Mar-a-Lago car service became a significant aspect of his life, bringing him more than three times his starting pay and enabling him to become a close-knit member of the Trump social network.

However, Butler was put off staying at his Mar-a-Lago position after Trump took office due to the MAGA approach to politics in recent years, the FBI investigation, and Trump’s apparent disregard for national security.

In November 2022, Butler departed Mar-a-Lago, disillusioned with how the club had developed into a more transactional setting for Trump during his presidency. He observed that year as the criminal case progressed, how it affected the lives of his friends and former coworkers.

Butler claims that he now thinks Trump has brought about more than just national division. Along with dividing communities, he also strained his own friendship with best friend De Oliveira for two decades.

It seemed to me that there was absolutely no way for me to win. They’re questioning me about one of my closest friends, really. I’m not lying. However, Butler expressed to CNN, “I also have a bad feeling that what I’m saying is getting him into trouble.”. “No one ought to experience that. And for him (Trump) to constantly stand there and say things like this is all a witch hunt and everything. He simply isn’t capable of accepting accountability for anything. “.

strolls at night.

Butler knew prosecutors would get in touch with him soon because so many of his Mar-a-Lago colleagues had been entangled in the probe.

Butler and De Oliveria’s neighborhood in Palm Beach Gardens is only a few hundred feet apart. They would go for walks every night and talk about the craze at the club several times a week.

Months after the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Butler received a call from his wife telling him to come home right away because FBI agents had just arrived while he was out for a stroll with De Oliveira one evening in early March 2023.

Brian Butler is on the left in this picture from his 40th birthday celebration, and Carlos De Oliveira is on the right. acquired by CNN.

As for De Oliveria, who had previously been approached separately by authorities and was allegedly withholding information from them, he hung back and watched while Butler went to meet the agents, he claims.

Butler and De Oliveria had a close friendship, but they approached the FBI in quite different ways. Despite having personally moved boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago, De Oliveria is accused of lying to federal investigators on multiple occasions and denying ever seeing or knowing anything about them. His plea of not guilty has been entered.

Butler claims that during one of their investigation-related walks, De Oliveira told him they were “all dirty” when it came to moving boxes.

Butler has not used a legal representative connected to Trump, but De Oliveira has.

A previous lawsuit had brought Butler into contact with Jeffrey Sloman, the former US attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Butler, however, claims he has resisted De Oliveira’s persistent requests that he hire a lawyer that Trump has personally selected and paid for.

transactional gathering.

Butler turned out to be a useful witness for Smith’s group. Butler provided light on potentially crucial incidents involving the release of classified material because of his extensive background at Trump’s club.

After speaking with Trump in the spring of 2021, Butler claims to have told investigators that Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt had repeated top-secret submarine information.

While in the backseat of Butler’s car, Pratt met with Trump and collected intelligence from the former president regarding US and Russian submarines. He then forwarded the information to his chief of staff. Butler subsequently expressed his surprise to investigators that Trump would divulge such information to a foreign national who had paid astronomical fees to access Mar-a-Lago.

Butler says he thinks the relationship showed how a club member tried to get in touch with Trump after he was elected.

Pratt has been interviewed by Smith’s team; he has previously declined to comment to CNN. A request for comment from Pratt’s representative was not immediately answered.

Friendship on Palm Beach.

In 2014, Brian Butler on the right and Carlos De Oliveira on the left posed for a picture at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. received by CNN.

Butler observed the exchange where Trump supposedly tried to retain De Oliveira in his fold in addition to the movement of the boxes.

A decade of almost constant companionship between Butler and De Oliveira ended last year, when De Oliveira was drawn into the criminal investigation.

Butler’s cell phone collection over the years shows his intimacy with De Oliveira: Almost ten years ago, Butler’s young daughter is seen hugging De Oliveira in a restaurant booth. De Oliveira and Butler, who appear considerably younger than they actually are, are seen posing in their work uniforms with their walkie talkies tucked into their khakis. Also, he has a posed picture of the entire Mar-a-Lago staff, including Butler and De Oliveira standing next to the then-President Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

A few days prior to De Oliveira’s indictment, there are videos of him playing golf and pretending to be a club member ordering a cocktail or the supervisor sitting at Butler’s desk. There are also videos of him karaoke with Taylor Swift in Butler’s living room after a round of golf. One of the putts he made on the golf course was so sweet and victorious that De Oliveira showed it to Trump.

Now Butler refers to the clips as “the good days.”.

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In one, from 2019, Butler is asked how he’s doing as Trump passes by the two. “All right,” said Butler. Butler tells Trump, “Carlos is good,” and then gives his friend a back pat.

In just a few seconds, the two men’s relationship is captured: Butler is shown as being both protective of his friend and the person Trump’s assistants usually go to for advice. This dynamic continued even into the early stages of the files investigation.

De Oliveira was rumored to get along well with Trump, Butler told CNN on Monday.

The last accusation in the indictment now stems from a conversation that prosecutors discovered years later. Prosecutors claim that in August 2022, Nauta contacted Butler “to make sure Carlos is good,” during a long weekend spent with family at a Florida casino honoring Butler’s 40th birthday.

Butler reassured Nauta on two separate occasions that De Oliveira was devoted to Trump and wouldn’t take any action to sour their relationship.

According to the prosecution, Trump then called De Oliveira and promised to get his property manager legal representation.

Butler remembers that call coming in while he and De Oliveira were at the food court of the casino. Happily, De Oliveira ended the call and informed Butler that Trump would provide him legal representation, according to Butler.

He answers the call, you know. Here we are in the food court. I believe we went to have a seat,” Butler said to CNN. How long the conversation lasted is beyond me to recall. But I do know that when they hung up at the end of the call, Carlos said, “He’s going to get me an attorney.”. “.”.

Butler gave the prosecutors his version of events and gave them access to both of his cell phones.

Butler has observed De Oliveira from a distance in their neighborhood and in news footage as his friend enters and exits a federal courtroom since Trump’s indictment.

Both men stop talking.

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