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Trump hit with new charges in classified documents case

BusinessTrump hit with new charges in classified documents case

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The DOJ’s indictment includes photos of classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

DOJ

Donald Trump was hit Thursday night with three new federal criminal charges, and a third defendant was added to the case where the former president already was accused of dozens of felonies related to retaining classified documents at his Florida residence after leaving the White House.

Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is charged in a new superseding indictment with his valet, Walt Nauta, over an alleged attempt to delete video surveillance footage at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, during the summer of 2022.

At that time, federal officials were seeking the return of government records they suspected of being kept at that location.

Trump is also newly accused of retaining a classified document detailing a U.S. military plan of attack on Iran, which Trump showed to a writer, publisher and two staff members at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on July 21, 2021.

At the time, Trump had not been president for six months, and his guests “did not have security clearances” to view the document, according to the superseding indictment in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Carlos de Oliveira, the third defendant added to the case against Trump and Nauta, is head of maintenance at Mar-a-Lago.

De Oliveira allegedly told another Mar-a-Lago employee that “the boss” wanted to delete a server containing surveillance footage showing how Trump’s boxes had been moved around at the club, according to the superseding indictment.

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The new charging document also identifies de Oliveira as the person who helped Nauta move about 30 boxes from Trump’s residence to a storage room.

He also allegedly told the FBI he was not involved in moving documents that officials sought, telling agents, “Never saw anything.”

New charges

Former U.S. President Trump appears on classified document charges after a federal indictment at Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse, alongside his attorney Chris Kise in Miami, Florida, U.S., June 13, 2023 in a courtroom sketch. 

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

The new charges against Trump include an additional count of willful retention of national defense information and two new counts of obstruction against both him and Nauta.

The new obstruction counts relate to the alleged efforts by Trump, Nauta and de Oliveira to delete Mar-a-Lago security camera footage that was sought by a federal grand jury in June 2022.

With the new charges, Trump now faces 40 criminal counts in the case, which was first lodged in early June by Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith.

The most serious counts against Trump carry 20-year maximum prison terms.

De Oliveira, 56, was charged Thursday with conspiracy to obstruct justice, altering destroying, mutilating a document and false statements.

The false statements charge relates to the voluntary interview De Oliveira gave FBI agents in January.

Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, stored hundreds of government documents at Mar-a-Lago after he left office, and according to prosecutors took steps to keep them hidden from U.S. officials seeking their return.

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Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty in the case. A trial in the case has been scheduled for May, just months before the general election.

John Irving, a lawyer for de Oliveira, declined to comment, according to NBC News.

What’s next?

De Oliveira has been ordered to appear in Miami federal court on Monday for his first hearing in the case.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Smith, said in a statement, “Today, a superseding indictment was returned by a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida that adds one defendant and four charges to the prior indictment filed against Donald J. Trump and Waltine Nauta.”

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung slammed the DOJ over the new charges. “This is 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,” he said in a statement.

“Deranged Jack Smith knows that they have no case and is casting about for any way to salvage their illegal witch hunt and to get someone other than Donald Trump to run against Crooked Joe Biden,” Cheung said.

Smith separately is overseeing a criminal investigation of Trump related to his efforts to undo his 2020 electoral loss to President Joe Biden. The special counsel last week informed Trump that he is a target in that probe, a notification that typically occurs before the target is charged in a case.

A grand jury that has been hearing testimony and reviewing evidence in that case in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ended a session Thursday afternoon without issuing an indictment.

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Trump faces other legal issues. In spring, a Manhattan grand jury charged him with falsifying business documents related to a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. In Georgia, meanwhile, a local district attorney is probing the former president over his attempt to overturn his 2020 electoral loss in that state.

Correction: Trump had not been president for six months on July 21, 2021. An earlier version misstated the time frame.

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