Mar-a-Lago IT director flipped on Trump after dropping Trump-linked lawyer, special counsel says

A witness in the federal classified documents case against former President Donald Trump testified that Trump and two co-defendants tried to erase incriminating video footage, but only after he switched lawyers from one recommended by a Trump attorney and paid for by Trump's political action committee, special counsel Jack Smith's office said in a court filing Tuesday night.

The revised testimony from the witness, Mar-a-Lago IT director Yuscil Taveras — identified as Trump Employee. 4 — was used by Smith's office to add obstruction charges to the earlier indictment. The superseding indictment also added Mar-a-Lago facilities worker Carlos De Oliveira as a co-defendant, alongside Trump and his personal aide Waltine "Walt" Nauta.

The lawyer funded by Trump's Save America PAC, Stanley Woodward, also represents Nauta and other unnamed potential witnesses, the Justice Department said. The filing, to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida, argued that Woodward's representation of Nauta poses a potential conflict of interest. It also answered Cannon's question about why Smith's office had continued using a grand jury in Washington, D.C., alongside the one that indicted Trump in Florida: the D.C. grand jury, which ended in mid-August, was used to investigate the alleged false statements Taveras and Nauta both gave to D.C. grand jurors.

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After the initial indictment, the filing said, Taveras was warned he could face prosecution for perjury. Chief U.S. District Judge James Boasberg informed Taveras he could be advised by a public defender, and on July 5, Taveras told Baosberg he was dropping Woodward and wanted to be represented by the public 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," the Justice Department said.

Trump, De Oliveira and Nauta have pleaded not guilty. The trial is scheduled to start in May.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.