A major witness in the Mar-a-Lago documents case flipped his testimony after switching from Trump PAC lawyer

Witness changed statements ‘immediately’ after switching attorneys to public defender

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 23 August 2023 08:27 BST
Special Counsel Jack Smith announces indictment against Donald Trump in Jan 6 probe

A key witness in the special counsel’s classified documents case against Donald Trump reversed his testimony and implicated the former president and his associates after switching from a lawyer paid for by a Trump PAC group, according to a filing from the special counsel’s office.

Last month, Yuscil Taveras, the former director of IT at Mar-a-Lago, identified in some court documents as Trump Employee 4, switched from his attorney Stanley Woodward to a public defender.

At the same time, he gave federal officials new statements they said implicated the former president and his employees Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliviera in an alleged scheme to delete security footage relating to the the handling of classifed documents.

"Immediately after receiving new counsel, [Mr Taveras] retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage,” the Tuesday filing from the special counsel’s office reads.

Prosecutors previously raised concerns in a June letter that Mr Taveras’s previous lawyer, Mr Woodward, would have faced a potential conflict of interest by representing him in addition to Mr Nauta.

“The target letter to Trump Employee 4 crystallized a conflict of interest arising from Mr. Woodward’s concurrent representation of Trump Employee 4 and Nauta,” the Tuesday filing read. “Advising Trump Employee 4 to correct his sworn testimony would result in testimony incriminating Mr. Woodward’s other client, Nauta; but permitting Trump Employee 4’s false testimony to stand uncorrected would leave Trump Employee 4 exposed to criminal charges for perjury.”

The change in statements was a key part of the superceding indictment last month adding new charges against Mr Trump and Mr Nauta, as well as naming a new defendant, Mr de Oliveira, in the case.

Federal prosecutors allege the former president improperly kept classified materials in his private home after leaving office and then worked with employees to obstruct officials investigating the matter.

The Independent has contacted Mr de Oliveira’s attorney for comment. Mr Woodward declined to comment.

Donald Trump has denied wrongdoing in the Mar-a-Lago case, and has called the prosecution “harassment” and “election interference.”

“I’m protected by the Presidential Records Act totally,” he said in an interview in July. “It shouldn’t even be a case. It’s not a criminal case. Where’s Biden with all the documents? He’s got 20 times, 30 times the documents I have, and he has not made it easy for them either.”

Mr Nauta and Mr de Oliveira have both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

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