Donald Trump thought he could keep a lid on his Mar-a-Lago shenanigans by providing lawyers for his employees. But now that one of them has a public defender, the former president is in the frying pan. Here is the full story about the latest blow to Trump’s freedom.
Identifying Trump’s Accomplices
When special prosecutor Jack Smith started digging into the idea that former president Donald Trump had pilfered classified documents as he left office, it didn’t take long to identify a few accomplices.
The list of suspects included those closest to Trump, especially at his Mar-a-Lago retreat, where the documents were found.
First up was so-called “body man” Walt Nauta, who spent his days driving Trump around and taking care of logistical details of his comings and goings.
And then there were two Mar-a-Lago employees, Carlos De Oliveira and Yuscil Taveras.
Taveras, an information technology specialist, was especially interesting to Smith because of speculation that Trump had tried to erase security footage that might have implicated him.
When Smith turned his eyes to Taveras, though, Trump appointed one of his lawyers, Stanley Woodward, to defend the IT guy against the Inquisition.
And, with the backing of Woodward’s counsel, Taveras swore up and down to Smith that there was never even any discussion about deleting footage.
But prosecutors threw up red flags in July of 2023 about the conflict of interest that Woodward’s representation of Taveras raised.
Was it really proper for the defendant’s lawyer to also be representing one of the key witnesses against him?
The Washington judge presiding over Trump’s federal indictment case bought that idea and offered to appoint a federal public defender for Taveras.
Big Trouble for Trump
Taveras jumped at the chance to get out from under Trump’s thumb once and for all, and he accepted the offer of a public defender.
And once he had his new representation, Taveras formally withdrew his previous testimony.
But Taveras didn’t just take his former conversations with Smith off the table.
Instead, according to a report from CNN on September 6, Taveras gave prosecutors specific information that implicated not only Trump but also Nauta and De Oliveira.
It appears that Taveras is now cooperating fully with Smith’s investigation, which could spell big trouble for Trump.
NOT an Accident
Smith’s investigation into Trump’s actions with regard to classified documents and potential national security concerns has had two major thrusts all along.
First is the idea that Trump didn’t “accidentally” carry home the wrong box of papers but that he knew all along what he was doing was wrong.
Even more problematic for the former president is the charge that he actively tried to cover up his breach, using his power to force others to help him in those efforts.
When his conspirators were tight-lipped, Trump at least had a leg to stand on. But now that it appears Taveras is ready to spill the beans, Trump’s battle to avoid yet another federal indictment seems almost impossible to win.
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