Trump hit with new charges in classified documents case


Donald Trump has been accused of attempting to have surveillance video footage at his Mar-a-Lago estate deleted ahead of an FBI search, as federal prosecutors added more criminal counts to a case over the former US president’s handling of classified documents.

The Department of Justice filed the expanded indictment on Thursday. Federal prosecutors also added a third defendant to the case alongside Trump and his personal aide Waltine Nauta: Carlos de Oliveira, a property manager at Mar-a-Lago. 

The case stems from sensitive government material that Trump transferred to his Mar-a-Lago residence after leaving the White House in 2021 and was later seized by FBI agents last year. Agents found boxes of documents stored across the property including in a bathroom and shower.

Trump was originally charged last month with 37 criminal counts including conspiracy to obstruct justice, concealing documents in a federal investigation and making false statements.

He and his co-defendants are now facing additional counts of obstruction of justice related to alleged attempts to destroy surveillance video footage at Mar-a-Lago. De Oliveira told an IT colleague ahead of last year’s FBI search that “the boss” wanted the server containing surveillance camera footage deleted, according to the indictment.

De Oliveira and Nauta contacted the IT employee after the DoJ told Trump’s legal team that a grand jury was seeking security camera footage from Mar-a-Lago, prosecutors said. Trump then called De Oliveira, according to the indictment.

The superseding indictment lists a new count of wilful retention of national defence information against Trump, in relation to a document detailing a US military plan of attack that he allegedly showed guests in 2021, saying: “See as president I could have declassified it . . . Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

Trump’s campaign in a statement said the new indictment was “nothing more than a continued desperate and flailing attempt” by the Biden administration and the DoJ to “harass President Trump and those around him”. Trump and Nauta pleaded not guilty following the original indictment. De Oliveira could not immediately be reached for comment.

The new charges in the classified documents case come as Trump is braced for a second potential federal indictment related to a DoJ probe into misconduct during the 2020 presidential elections and efforts to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Last week, Trump said he had received a letter from the DoJ notifying him that he was the target of a criminal investigation into attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 vote. Members of Trump’s legal team met DoJ prosecutors on Thursday, stoking speculation that a decision on whether to bring charges in that case could happen soon.

Trump on Thursday said in a social media post that his legal team had a “productive meeting” at the DoJ. He added that an “indictment of me would only further destroy our country” and that his lawyers had said he had done “nothing wrong”.

If prosecutors bring charges in this case, it would mark the second federal indictment obtained by Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by US attorney-general Merrick Garland to oversee probes involving Trump. 

The state of Georgia is also investigating alleged meddling in the 2020 election by Trump and others. If local prosecutors decide to bring charges, they will probably materialise later this summer.

Trump was charged earlier this year in a separate case by the Manhattan district attorney over payments to a porn actress with whom Trump allegedly had an affair.

Additional reporting by Lauren Fedor

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