An employee at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate flipped and is now testifying against the former president in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s criminal prosecution of the former president’s handling of classified records after leaving office.
The employee — identified in court documents as “Trump Employee 4” — quickly changed his grand jury testimony after a meeting with a lawyer from the federal defender’s office in Washington, D.C., in which he decided that he no longer wanted to be represented by a lawyer paid for by Trump’s political action committee and who was recommended to him by Trump’s lawyer.
The revelation was made in a court filing from Smith’s team in response to U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, the federal judge overseeing the case, who demanded to know why prosecutors continued to collect grand jury evidence in Washington, D.C., for the case in Florida. Smith also notified Cannon that the grand jury in Washington, D.C., finished its work last week.
“During these investigations, the Government gathered evidence that Trump employee Carlos De Oliveira tried to enlist the director of information technology for Mar-a-Lago (identified in the superseding indictment as Trump Employee 4) to delete Mar-a-Lago security footage after the grand jury in the District of Columbia had issued a subpoena for the footage,” the court filing said.
The U.S. government approached Stanley Woodward, the lawyer representing Trump Employee 4, to notify him that he had a potential conflict by representing him and Walt Nauta, the Trump aide accused of conspiring with Trump to obstruct the grand jury investigation into Trump’s handling of classified material.
“Mr. Woodward responded that he did not have a reason to believe that his concurrent representation of Trump Employee 4 and Nauta raised a conflict of interest,” the filing said. “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. In testimony before the same grand jury, De Oliveira likewise denied any contact with Trump Employee 4 regarding security footage. The Government’s evidence indicated that the testimony by Trump Employee 4 and De Oliveira was false.”
Several weeks later, prosecutors informed Trump Employee 4 that he was the “target of a grand jury investigation in the District of Columbia into whether he committed perjury there, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1623.”
“Trump Employee 4’s criminal exposure identified in the target letter was entirely due to his false sworn denial before the grand jury in the District of Columbia that he had information about obstructive acts that would implicate Nauta (and others),” the filing said.
Smith’s team explained that the letter to Trump Employee 4 officially created the conflict of interest for Woodward because if he advised Trump Employee 4 to correct his sworn testimony that would incriminate Nauta and if he advised that Trump Employee 4 not correct his statement that would leave him open to criminal prosecution. The filing noted that the conflict of interest could further be heightened by the fact that the attorney was being paid for by Trump’s PAC and was recommended by Trump’s lawyer.
“Chief Judge Boasberg made available independent counsel (the First Assistant in the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the District of Columbia) to provide advice to Trump Employee 4 regarding potential conflicts,” the filing added. “On July 5, 2023, Trump Employee 4 informed Chief Judge Boasberg that he no longer wished to be represented by Mr. Woodward and that, going forward, he wished to be represented by the First Assistant Federal Defender. 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, as set forth in the superseding indictment.”
BREAKING: Jack Smith’s team tells Judge Cannon that a key witness in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents case retracted false testimony after switching lawyers.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 22, 2023