In a recent turn of events, former President Donald Trump is facing additional federal criminal charges, adding to the ones already related to the possession of classified documents after his tenure at the White House. Alongside his valet, Walt Nauta, Trump now faces accusations of attempting to delete video surveillance footage at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida during the summer of 2022. These actions allegedly took place when federal officials were trying to retrieve government records believed to be at that location.
A third defendant, Carlos de Oliveira, the head of maintenance at Mar-a-Lago, has been included in the case as well. According to the superseding indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, de Oliveira supposedly informed another Mar-a-Lago employee that “the boss” wanted to delete a server containing surveillance footage. During his interactions with the FBI, de Oliveira denied involvement in moving the sought-after documents, stating he had not seen anything.
The new charges against Trump comprise an additional count of willful retention of national defense information and two counts of obstruction, applicable to both Trump and Nauta. This brings the total number of criminal counts Trump faces in this case to 40. The charges were initially brought forth in early June by Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith.
De Oliveira, aged 56, faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, altering, destroying, mutilating a document, and making false statements. The false statements charge is related to his voluntary interview with FBI agents in January.
Trump, currently pursuing the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is alleged to have stored hundreds of government documents at Mar-a-Lago post-presidency, taking measures to keep them concealed from U.S. officials attempting to reclaim them. Both Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a trial is scheduled for next May.
John Irving, de Oliveira’s lawyer, declined to comment on the matter. As for the former president’s team, Trump’s spokesperson, Steven Cheung, dismissed the new indictment as a desperate attempt by the Biden administration’s Department of Justice to harass Trump and his associates. He labeled the investigation a baseless witch hunt, accusing special counsel Jack Smith of pursuing any means to undermine Trump’s reputation.
In addition to the present case, Smith is concurrently overseeing a criminal investigation concerning Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat to President Joe Biden. The special counsel recently informed Trump that he is a target in that probe, usually a precursor to filing charges against the individual in question. The situation remains tense as these legal battles unfold.