Former U.S. president Donald Trump now faces two additional charges in the Mar-a-Lago confidential documents case. On Thursday, special counsel Jack Smith updated the indictment to include extra charges of obstruction and willful retention of national defense information. The charges are over allegations that Trump asked Carlos de Oliveira, the Mar-a-Lago property manager, to delete security camera footage at the Florida home in an effort to obstruct the federal investigation into the case.
De Oliveira was also added to the indictment. He has been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice; altering, destroying or concealing records, and making false statements. Up until now, the only defendants in the case were Trump and his personal aide Walt Nauta. The news comes just hours after Trump’s lawyers met with members of the prosecution in Washington, in a meeting described by the former president as “productive.”
Smith — who is also leading the investigation into Trump’s alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election — accuses De Oliveira of allegedly helping Trump to obstruct the federal investigation into whether the Republican politician had illegally retained classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after he left office. According to the superseding indictment, De Oliveira allegedly deleted security camera footage and lied to investigators about what he knew about the classified documents being kept at the Florida estate. The case is set to go to trial on May 20.
In June, Trump pleaded not guilty in a Miami courtroom to 37 charges concerning his handling of classified documents and his efforts to obstruct the investigation into the case. He is accused of compromising national security with his negligent handling of the papers, which were found in 50 boxes in different rooms of Mar-a-Lago, including a bathroom. In the superseding indictment, Trump faces additional charges of “altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing a document or object” and attempting to induce other people to do so.
Trump, who is campaigning for another term in the White House, has dismissed the new charges. A spokesperson for the president said they were “nothing more than a continued desperate and flailing attempt” by the Biden administration “to harass President Trump and those around him” and to influence the 2024 presidential race. It’s an argument the Republican politician often uses in a bid to undermine the justice system, which he claims the Democrats have weaponized to attack him. Trump has described the indictment as “election interference at the highest level.”
In the superseding indictment, prosecutors argue that De Oliveira lied to FBI investigators when he told agents that he was not involved in any transfer or movement of evidence and was unaware of any such effort. “So you don’t know where items would have been stored, as soon as he moved back to Mar-a-Lago?” an FBI agent asked him, according to Bloomberg. “No,” De Oliveira replied. Prosecutors, however, maintain that the property manager “personally observed and helped move Trump’s boxes [of confidential documents]” when they arrived at the resort in January 2021.
Trump and his personal aide Nauta were charged last month for willful withholding of national defense information, concealment of documents, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.
Trump is the first former or incumbent president to be indicted in U.S. history. He set the record in March, when he was indicted over hush money paid to the porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. The Mar-a-Lago indictment was filed in June. And Trump may also face new charges over his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. All three cases are criminal investigations.
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