A recent indictment alleges that ex-president Donald Trump tried to delete security footage to obstruct the ongoing investigation into his alleged hoarding and hiding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors have now added a 32nd charge to the initial 31 counts of illegally retaining national defense information, bringing the total federal charges against Trump to 40.
The indictment includes new counts of obstruction and willful retention of national defense information. It also alleges a broader effort by Trump and some of his associates to cover up their actions as the FBI sought to retrieve highly classified documents kept at Mar-a-Lago even after his presidency had ended.
The additional charge centers around a conversation that Trump allegedly had at his golf club and summer residence in Bedminster, N.J., in July 2021, pertaining to a secret military document concerning Iran. During the recorded conversation, Trump commented that he had the power to declassify the document while he was president.
In June, Nauta, Trump’s longtime valet, was indicted alongside the former president for helping mislead investigators during their search for classified documents. Both Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty, and a trial is scheduled to begin in May.
According to a superseding indictment released on Thursday by Special Counsel Jack Smith, Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos De Oliveira has been indicted as part of the ongoing investigation into the handling of documents by the former president, becoming the third person charged in this matter.
Trump, Waltine “Walt” Nauta, and Carlos De Oliveira are accused of requesting the deletion of security camera footage to obstruct the investigation. During the investigation, De Oliveira was repeatedly questioned by special counsel Jack Smith’s team about his actions in June and July 2022.
The indictment alleges that De Oliveira asked for security camera footage to be deleted in order to obstruct the investigation. It claims there was a conversation between De Oliveira and another employee of Trump’s in which De Oliveira asked about the retention period for the footage and insisted that “the boss” wanted the server deleted. De Oliveira is now the third person that has been charged.
Prosecutors said they attempted to conceal the footage from federal investigators after issuing a subpoena for it. Video from the property would ultimately play a significant role in the investigation because, prosecutors said, it captured Nauta moving boxes of documents in and out of a storage room — including one such incident a day before a Justice Department visit to the property.
According to the indictment, Nauta met with De Oliveira on June 25, 2022, at Mar-a-Lago, where they went to a security guard booth where surveillance video was displayed on monitors and walked with a flashlight through a tunnel where the storage room was located, observing and pointing out surveillance cameras.
The case involving highly classified documents is expected to undergo a complex and time-consuming evidence review, potentially causing considerable delays. The trial is set to take place during the 2024 presidential election season.
Aside from the documents case, investigators are also scrutinizing the attempts made by Trump and his supporters to contest President Biden’s win in the 2020 election. This includes the investigation of the events leading up to the U.S. Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021. The Justice Department has informed Trump that he may also face charges in that case.
Additionally, Trump is facing criminal charges in New York for allegedly falsifying business records related to hush money payments during the 2016 election. The New York trial is scheduled for March, and Trump has pleaded not guilty.
Regarding the latest development, a spokesperson for Trump has dismissed the new charges as nothing more than a desperate and futile attempt by the Biden administration to harass President Trump and his associates in an attempt to influence the 2024 presidential race.