Trump hit with new charges in Mar-a-Lago documents case

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By Robert Legare, Melissa Quinn, Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

Trump faces new charges in classified docs probe

Trump faces new charges in classified docs probe; third defendant added to case 03:05

Washington — Prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith’s office have added new charges against former President Donald Trump in the case involving documents with classified markings discovered at this Florida resort of Mar-a-Lago, according to court papers filed in federal court Thursday evening.

A superseding indictment unsealed by the Justice Department lists multiple new counts against Trump, including: altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing an object; and corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing a document, record or other object; and an additional charge of willful retention of national defense information.

Trump was previously charged with 37 felony counts, including 31 counts of willful retention of classified documents and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. He has pleaded not guilty and claimed the prosecution is a politically motivated “witch hunt” against him. Walt Nauta, the former president’s aide, was also charged in the case and pleaded not guilty.

The new document names a third defendant in the case: Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago property manager and former valet. He faces one count of altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing an object; one count of corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing a document, record or other object; and one count of making false statements and representations during a voluntary interview with federal investigators.

He has been ordered to appear in federal court in Miami on Monday morning. An attorney for De Oliveira declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Nauta.

Steve Cheung, spokesman for the Trump campaign, claimed the new counts are part of an effort to damage Trump as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination and “nothing more than a continued desperate and flailing attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their Department of Justice to harass President Trump and those around him.”

The 32nd count of willful retention of national defense information in the superseding indictment stems from a document Trump showed to four people during a July, 21, 2021, meeting at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to the new filing. The indictment alleges that the document, which Trump had until mid-Jan. 2022, was marked TOP SECRET/NOFORN, and is described in the indictment as a “presentation concerning military activity in a foreign country.”

The superseding indictment notes that Trump was participating in a recorded interview with a writer and a publisher, and two of his aides were also present. The former president told the group he had a “plan of attack” from a senior military official. Trump characterized the document as “highly confidential” and “secret information” and noted that “as president I could have declassified it. … Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.” The indictment also points out that neither the aides nor the writer or publisher had a security clearance.

The document, which CBS News reported was a Defense Department memo on Iran, was not part of the original 31 counts of retention of national defense information charged in Smith’s initial indictment. 

What are the allegations against Carlos De Oliveira?

The superseding indictment names De Oliveira as one of the aides who helped move boxes for Trump, and federal prosecutors allege that he, along with Trump and Nauta, instructed an unnamed employee to delete Mar-a-Lago security camera footage to prevent it from being turned over to a federal grand jury. 

According to the filing, the Justice Department emailed the attorney for Trump’s business with the final grand jury subpoena, requiring the production of surveillance records, videos and images, on June 24, 2022. The next day, on June 25, Nauta and De Oliveira went to the security guard booth where surveillance video is displayed, and pointed out surveillance cameras, the indictment alleges.

On June 27, 2022, the indictment says, De Oliveira took another Trump employee to a small room known as an “audio closet,” and asked the employee how many days the server retained security footage. The employee said he believed it was about 45 days. 

“De Oliveira told Trump Employee 4 that ‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted,” the indictment states. “Trump Employee 4 responded that he would not know how to do that, and that he did not believe that he would have the rights to do that. … De Oliveira then insisted to Trump Employee 4 that ‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted and asked, ‘What are we going to do?'”

Federal investigators spoke with De Oliveira at his house on Jan. 13 and asked him about the location and movement of the boxes stored at Mar-a-Lago, prosecutors said in the filing. De Oliveira told the FBI at the time that he was not part of a group that helped unload and move boxes at the end of Trump’s presidency, the indictment states. In response to a question about whether he was aware that boxes were being moved, he replied that he “never saw anything,” according to the Justice Department.

According to the indictment, De Oliveira also told the FBI during the voluntary interview that he didn’t know where items would’ve been stored when Trump returned to Mar-a-Lago.

His statements “were false, as De Oliveira knew, because De Oliveira had personally observed and helped move Trump’s boxes when they arrived at” Mar-a-Lago in January 2021, according to the filing.

The charges against Trump related to his handling of sensitive government records are the first brought by the Justice Department against a former president. The judge overseeing the case, Judge Aileen Cannon, has set a trial date of May 2024, to take place at the courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida.

The new charges come as the former president and his attorneys are waiting for the possibility of a separate indictment stemming from Smith’s investigation into attempts to alter the 2020 presidential election and interfere with the peaceful transfer of power. Trump’s attorneys met with federal prosecutors at the special counsel’s office Thursday in Washington, D.C. He has also denied wrongdoing in this case.

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