Donald Trump ordered employees at his Florida resort to delete security videos as he was under investigation for retaining classified documents, US prosecutors said on Thursday as they broadened the case against the former president and charged a second member of his staff with helping to hide documents.
US Special Counsel Jack Smith filed three new criminal counts against Trump, bringing the total to 40, and charged a maintenance worker at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, Carlos De Oliveira, with conspiracy to obstruct justice, accusing him of helping Trump to hide documents.
De Oliveira, 56, told another worker at the resort where Trump lives that “the boss” wanted security videos of the property in Florida deleted after the Justice Department subpoenaed them.
Prosecutors also charged De Oliveira with lying to the FBI during a voluntary interview, falsely claiming he had no involvement in moving boxes of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
“Never saw nothing,” De Oliveira told the agents, according to the indictment.
De Oliveira’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The charges were made public hours after Trump said his attorneys met with the Justice Department officials investigating his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, in a sign that another set of criminal charges could come soon.
“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,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement.
Trump pleaded not guilty in Miami last month to federal charges of unlawfully retaining the classified government documents after leaving office in 2021 and obstructing justice. Prosecutors accused him of risking some of the most sensitive US national security secrets.
Trump is the first former US president to face criminal charges and has already been indicted twice this year, once in New York over hush-money payments to a porn star and once already over the classified documents.
Republican Front-Runner In 2024 Election Campaign
The charges have not hurt Trump’s standing as the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination to challenge President Biden in the 2024 election.
On the contrary, Trump’s lead over nearest rival Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has grown. A Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier this month showed Trump leading DeSantis 47 per cent-19 per cent among Republicans, a wider lead than his 44 per cent-29 per cent lead before the first indictment in New York in March.
Trump is scheduled to go to trial in March 2024 in New York and May 2024 in Florida, at which point the Republican nomination may already be decided. Special Counsel Smith’s team said in a separate filing that they would work to ensure the new charges would not delay the trial.
Prosecutors filed additional charges against another Trump aide, Walt Nauta. Nauta pleaded not guilty earlier this month to charges he helped the former president hide documents.
According to the new indictment, Nauta and De Oliveira moved 64 boxes of records to Trump’s residence after the Justice Department subpoenaed Trump for any classified records in May 2022. They later returned only 30 of them for inspection by Evan Corcoran, a Trump attorney who asked to review their contents to comply with the subpoena.
De Oliveira is due to appear in court in Miami on Monday.
Prosecutors also said they recovered the document involved in an incident in which Trump, bragged about a “plan of attack” against another country in an interview at his New Jersey golf resort.
According to the indictment, Trump explained the document was highly classified. Nobody else in the room had the authority to examine it, Smith wrote.