A former assistant to Donald J. Trump has informed investigators that the former president told her to say she did not know anything about the boxes containing classified documents that he had stashed at his private club in Florida after leaving the White House, according to a person briefed on her comments.
The assistant, Molly Michael, who worked for Mr. Trump in the area outside the Oval Office and then in his post-presidential office, told the investigators about Mr. Trump’s comments when she was interviewed as part of the inquiry into his handling of sensitive government documents.
“You don’t know anything about the boxes,” Mr. Trump told Ms. Michael when he learned that federal officials wanted to talk to her in the case. Her account was first reported by ABC News and was confirmed by the person briefed on her comments.
Ms. Michael also told investigators that Mr. Trump would write notes to himself on documents that he gave her listing tasks he wanted done. She later realized that in some cases the documents had classified markings, the person briefed on her comments said. The specific nature of the documents in question remained unclear, the person said.
A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment. Ms. Michael could not be reached for comment.
The revelations about Ms. Michael’s discussions with investigators were the latest to show the scale and nature of the evidence gathered by federal prosecutors working on the classified documents case. Mr. Trump stands accused of illegally holding on to dozens of highly sensitive national security records after leaving office and of conspiring with two aides at Mar-a-Lago, his club and residence in Florida, to obstruct the government’s repeated attempts to get them back.
Ms. Michael is one of at least two witnesses who could be called to testify at Mr. Trump’s trial in the documents case and present the jury with evidence that the former president sought in some way to obstruct the government’s investigation.
In July, another potential witness in the case, Yuscil Taveras, one of Mr. Trump’s information technology workers, reached a cooperation deal with the government and told investigators that the property manager at Mar-a-Lago asked him, at Mr. Trump’s request, to delete from a computer server security footage that the government was seeking as part of its inquiry.
Ms. Michael’s account about Mr. Trump writing notes on classified material did not appear to be directly related to any of the specific charges he is facing in the case. But the information could be used at trial to portray the former president as treating sensitive government documents recklessly or carelessly.
Her remarks could also be used to reinforce that Mr. Trump was trying to keep people from sharing information about the boxes with investigators.