A Mar-a-Lago employee has changed his testimony in the indictment against Donald Trump for mishandling classified documents, a sign that the former president’s troubles are about to grow even further.
A late-Tuesday filing from special counsel Jack Smith revealed that a key witness, who has been identified as Mar-a-Lago information technology worker Yuscil Taveras, recanted his testimony denying that there had been any conversations about security footage that prosecutors subpoenaed in 2022 as part of the investigation.
Taveras was assigned a new public defender in July, replacing his Trump-appointed lawyer, and “immediately after receiving new counsel, Trump Employee 4 retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage,” the filing said, referring to Trump and his two co-defendants.
Trump was charged in Florida with keeping national defense secrets, making false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other things, for hoarding classified materials at Mar-a-Lago. His body man Walt Nauta and a Mar-a-Lago employee named Carlos De Oliveira have also been charged. All three men are accused of trying to destroy evidence, including attempting to delete security footage off a server.
Taveras provided his original testimony when he was represented by Stanley Woodward, who also represents Nauta. Prosecutors raised concerns in July that Woodward representing a defendant and a witness could create a conflict of interest. The chief judge presiding over Trump’s federal indictment case in Washington offered to assign a federal public defender to Taveras, and Taveras accepted.
Taveras’s flip is a major point for special counsel Smith’s team. Smith has sought to prove that Trump not only knew that he was wrong to keep classified documents but also tried to cover up his actions. Taveras’s new testimony directly implicates Trump in the cover-up.
It is possible that Taveras’s testimony won’t be allowed in court, though. Woodward argued that it is not allowed to have two grand juries weigh in on a single case, referring to the Florida and Washington grand juries. He asked Judge Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over the Mar-a-Lago case, to strike Taveras’s testimony.
Cannon, a Trump appointee, has yet to rule on the issue. But she has previously made decisions that tip significantly in Trump’s favor.