In this aerial view, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen on September 14, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
An IT manager was asked to delete surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department alleged.
That footage was alleged to show Donald Trump’s aide moving boxes of classified documents.
The IT manager struck a cooperation deal and testified before a federal grand jury.
WASHINGTON (AP) — An information technology director at Mar-a-Lago struck a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors last summer in their investigation of Donald Trump’s retention of classified documents at the former president’s Florida property, according to the worker’s ex-lawyer.
Stanley Woodward, a former attorney for the IT manager, made the revelation in a court filing responding to Justice Department arguments that he had a potential conflict-of-interest because of his representation of another key figure in the Mar-a-Lago probe, Trump valet Walt Nauta.
CNN previously identified the worker as Yuscil Taveras.
A cooperation agreement generally requires an individual to assist a criminal investigation in exchange for not being prosecuted. In this case, Taveras testified before a federal grand jury that in July returned an updated indictment against Trump, Nauta, and another Mar-a-Lago employee, Carlos De Oliveira, accusing the men of conspiring to delete surveillance footage from the property. All three have pleaded not guilty.
The indictment alleges that De Oliveira, Mar-a-Lago’s property manager, told Taveras — identified in court papers as “Trump Employee 4” — that “the boss” wanted surveillance footage deleted. The Justice Department does not allege that the footage was actually deleted, and in fact, security video alleged to show Nauta moving boxes in and out of a storage room forms a critical accusation in the indictment.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s team said in a court filing last month that the IT director had retracted “prior false testimony” after being advised last summer of a potential conflict because of Woodward’s representation of Nauta.
Taveras previously stated before a grand jury in March that he could not recall conversations regarding security footage, according to prosecutors.
“When Trump Employee 4 testified before the grand jury in the District of Columbia in March 2023, he repeatedly denied or claimed not to recall any contacts or conversations about the security footage at Mar-a-Lago,” prosecutors said in court filings.
Taveras then switched lawyers and provided new and incriminating information in the run-up to the new, or superseding, indictment in July, prosecutors have said.
Woodward, in a court filing this week, rejected that version of events, saying he had welcomed the opportunity for his client to have a new lawyer from the federal defender’s office and that the client had been offered a cooperation agreement immediately after saying that he wanted to switch attorneys.
He also said that his client had explicitly said that he had not been coached to testify in any way that was false.