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Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago case witness retracts ‘false testimony’

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An aerial view of Donald Trumps Mar-a-Lago mansion. — X/@FLOA_MissLinda
An aerial view of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion. — X/@FLOA_MissLinda

An employee of Donald Trump, who was presented as a witness in the former US president’s Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, has accused him of tampering with evidence, the BBC reported on Wednesday, citing a court filing.

According to the prosecutors, Yuscil Taveras, an IT director dubbed as “Trump Employee 4” in the court filings, changed his testimony after switching lawyers and now accuses the ex-president and two of his aides of “efforts to delete security camera footage.”

The 77-year-old who is facing 40 charges in the case, his aide Walt Nauta, and Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira have all pleaded not guilty to mishandling sensitive files and attempting to cover up the crime by deleting security footage at the mansion.

According to a court document submitted on Tuesday, Taveras, whose previous attorney also represents Trump’s co-defendant Nauta, changed attorneys after being informed he was under investigation for perjury by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is in charge of the case.

During grand jury testimony in March this year, Taveras “repeatedly denied or claimed not to recall any contacts or conversations about the security footage at Mar-a-Lago”.

Investigators wanted the CCTV footage as they followed the movement of boxes carrying the documents inside the resort, and the prosecution claimed they were able to prove that De Oliveira had instructed Taveras to remove it.

Carlos De Oliveira (C), personal aide to former US President Donald Trump, leaves the James L. King Federal Courthouse in Miami, Florida, on July 31, 2023. — AFP/FIle
Carlos De Oliveira (C), personal aide to former US President Donald Trump, leaves the James L. King Federal Courthouse in Miami, Florida, on July 31, 2023. — AFP/FIle

After prosecutors uncovered a conflict of interest for Taveras’ attorney Stanley Woodward, who was receiving financial support from Trump’s Save America political action organisation, Chief Judge James Boasberg, who is in charge of the federal grand jury, gave Taveras the services of a public defender.

The filing said: “Advising Trump Employee 4 to correct his sworn testimony would result in testimony incriminating Woodward’s other client, Nauta; but permitting Trump Employee 4’s false testimony to stand uncorrected would leave Trump Employee 4 exposed to criminal charges for perjury.”

Taveras informed Chief Judge Boasberg on July 5 that he would be accepting the offer of legal aid and no longer wished to be represented by Woodward.

“Immediately after receiving new counsel, Trump Employee 4 retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, [Carlos] De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage, as set forth in the superseding indictment,” the court filing says.

Waltine Nauta, personal aide to former US President Donald Trump, departs the Alto Lee Adams Sr. US Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida, on August 10, 2023. — AFP/File
Waltine Nauta, personal aide to former US President Donald Trump, departs the Alto Lee Adams Sr. US Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida, on August 10, 2023. — AFP/File

While Taveras is not charged in the case, which is scheduled for trial next May, Trump faces criminal charges in three other cases that include Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential elections in 2021 after Joe Biden won the election.

Additionally, Trump also faces a trial in New York in March 2024 for allegedly making hush money payments to a porn star in a bid to cheat campaign finance rules ahead of the 2016 election.

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