Special Counsel Jack Smith on Thursday filed new charges against former president Donald Trump in relation to his mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House, providing new evidence that Trump sought to have security camera footage at his private Mar-a-Lago club deleted in order to keep it from being reviewed by investigators.
The former president and 2024 Republican presidential primary frontrunner was charged with three new counts, including one additional count of violating the Espionage Act and two new obstruction counts, related to his efforts to have the surveillance video footage deleted.
Trump was previously charged last month with 31 counts of violating the Espionage Act due to his “willful retention” of classified records, with each count representing a different classified document that Trump allegedly withheld. He was also charged with several other counts related to his alleged effort to obstruct the investigation.
With the new charges, Trump now faces 40 total federal charges, including:
- 32 counts of willful retention of national defense information, in violation of the Espionage Act;
- one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice;
- one count of withholding a document or record;
- one count of corruptly concealing a document or record;
- one count of concealing a document in a federal investigation;
- one count of a scheme to conceal;
- one count of making false statements and representations;
- one count of altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing an object, and;
- one count of corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing a document, record, or other object.
New charges were also filed against Walt Nauta, a Trump aide who was previously charged in June as well. But a Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker, Carlos de Oliveira, was charged for the first time on Thursday.
The revised indictment said that in June of 2022, shortly after prosecutors demanded the Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage as part of their investigation, Trump called De Oliveira and the two spoke for roughy 24 minutes. Two days later, Nauta and De Oliveira “went to the security guard booth where surveillance video is displayed on monitors, walked with a flashlight through the tunnel where the storage room was located, and observed and pointed out surveillance cameras.”
Then on June 27, 2022, De Oliveira allegedly met with another Mar-a-Lago employee in an “audio closet” and told the employee “that ‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted,” referring to the computer server where the security footage was stored.
The employee—who is not named in the indictment but which news reports suggest is likely a man named Yuscil Taveras, who oversaw the surveillance camera footage at the property—said “that he would not know how to do that, and that he did not believe that he would have the rights to do that,” according to the indictment.
De Oliveira then reiterated that “the boss” wanted the server deleted, asking “What are we going to do?”
The footage was not ultimately deleted, was obtained by prosecutors, and became a central piece of their case, showing that Nauta had moved boxes of classified documents around Mar-a-Lago to avoid complying with a federal subpoena for all classified documents in Trump’s possession.
The superseding indictment filed Thursday also accuses Trump of illegally showing a military document about Iran to others and alleges that the document Trump is heard talking about on a recently-published audio recording of a July 2021 meeting at his New Jersey golf club is a “top secret” classified document and not just random papers, as Trump has claimed.
Trump has publicly insisted he’s innocent and attacked prosecutors, but both the original indictment and the updated one filed Thursday suggest an enormous amount of evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing—a fact that even his own former White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, acknowledged on CNN on Thursday night.
“I think this original indictment was engineered to last a thousand years, and now this superseding indictment will last an antiquity,” Cobb said. “This is such a tight case, the evidence is so overwhelming.”
Both Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty. Their trial is set to begin next May.
The Special Counsel’s team has also been separately investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including the events that led to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol that left five people dead. Trump said last week that his lawyers were told by Smith’s team that he could face charges in that case as well.
Trump also faces significant legal troubles elsewhere across the country, including an investigation in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in that state, and another case in New York, where he was indicted in April on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records over allegations that he made hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges in that case, as well.
by Keya Vakil