By Janice Hisle
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued an updated indictment, adding new charges and a third defendant to the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump.
On July 27, a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida issued a superseding indictment, which tacks on more charges against Mr. Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, while also charging another employee of Mr. Trump with three offenses.
The former president was charged with an additional count of willful retention of national defense information, the indictment (pdf) says. All three defendants are also charged with two new obstruction counts arising from allegations that they attempted to delete Mar-a-Lago video surveillance footage.
The indictment alleges that Trump asked for the footage to be deleted after federal investigators visited the property in June 2022 to collect classified documents that he took with him after leaving the White House a year earlier. Law enforcement officials then issued a subpoena for surveillance footage from areas near a storage room and other areas at Mar-a-Lago after noticing the cameras while they were there.
The indictment quotes a Mar-a-Lago property manager, Carlos De Oliveira, telling a colleague that the “boss” wanted a server hosting the footage to be deleted. It says Mr. De Oliveira went to the IT office last June, took an employee to a small room known as the “audio closet” and asked the person how many days the server retained footage.
When the employee said he didn’t think he was able to delete footage, Mr. De Oliveira replied that the “boss” wanted it done, saying, “What are we going to do?” the indictment states.
Mr. De Oliveira, 56, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was added as a defendant in the indictment. He was also charged with making false statements and representations during a voluntary interview with the FBI on Jan. 13. He has been summoned to appear at a federal courthouse in Miami at 10:30 a.m. on July 31.
The new indictment also brought an additional Espionage Act charge against Mr. Trump stemming from July 2021 meeting with a book publisher at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club during which the former president allegedly referred to a classified military document detailing U.S. plans to attack another country.
The Bedminster meeting was referenced in the initial indictment but no charges were brought based on the incident at the time.
Mr. Trump later insisted that he didn’t show any classified documents at the meeting and that the papers he had were news clippings “about Iran and other things.”
In response to the additional charges, Mr. Trump’s campaign issued a statement criticizing President Joe Biden’s administration and Special Counsel Jack Smith.
“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,” Mr. Trump’s campaign said.
“Deranged Jack Smith knows that they have no case, and is casting about for any way to salvage their illegal witch hunt and to get someone other than Donald Trump to run against Crooked Joe Biden.”
The revised indictment brings the total number of counts leveled against Mr. Trump to 40. He now faces 32 counts of willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act, and eight counts related to alleged efforts to obstruct the investigation.
Although the DOJ has released photographs depicting dozens of boxes of documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, court records show a much smaller quantity of records is at issue in the case. Mr. Trump turned over 235 pages of documents with classified markings between January and June of 2022. Then the FBI found 102 more such documents during its raid of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Nauta have pleaded not guilty to charges in the original indictment filed last month. Their trial is set for May 20, 2024.
In the new court filings, the DOJ said it intends to keep that date in spite of the additional charges now included in the case.
In addition to the documents case, another federal indictment is expected relating to the former president’s efforts to dispute the results of the 2020 presidential election and the events around Jan. 6. Earlier on Thursday, Trump confirmed his lawyers met with Mr. Smith’s office to contest the case, but said there was “no indication of notice” of an indictment being brought. The meeting came after Trump received a “target letter” from Mr. Smith’s office last week, a move signaling an indictment is imminent.
A Fulton County, Georgia, investigation into Mr. Trump’s disputing of the state’s election results is also expected to lead to criminal charges in the coming weeks.
In a separate case, Mr. Trump faces state charges in New York. That case involves allegations that he created false business records to hide reimbursement of a hush-money payment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.