The federal indictment, filed in the Southern District of Florida, alleges that Trump was part of a scheme to delete security video and that a newly charged defendant — who was identified as a property manager at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence — told another employee that "the boss" wanted the server deleted.
That employee, Carlos De Oliveira, who was a maintenance supervisor at Mar-a-Lago, was charged Thursday. His lawyer, John Irving, declined to comment.
Court documents say De Oliveira denied that he was involved in moving boxes. "Never saw anything," he told the FBI, according to documents. "Never saw anything," he repeated.
The indictment lays out what federal authorities say was a scheme to obstruct the ongoing investigation. Trump was very focused on not allowing officials to get their hands on his boxes, it indicates.
“I don’t want anybody looking, I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don’t,” Trump told his lawyer in May 2022, according to the indictment. “What happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them? Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”
Trump's lawyer said Trump later made a "plucking motion" to suggest that he should take anything that was "really bad" out. Afterward, prosecutors suggest, Trump was involved in an effort to delete security camera video that would show how his employees had moved boxes of documents before the FBI search.
The superseding indictment claims that Walt Nauta and De Oliveira met up at a security guard booth where security video was displayed on monitors and that De Oliveira later stepped into an audio closet with another employee, identified as Yuscil Taveras by a source familiar with the matter, and had a conversation that De Oliveira said should be kept between them.
De Oliveira asked Taveras how long the server retained video, and Taveras indicated it was about 45 days, according to the indictment. De Oliveira said that "the boss" wanted the server deleted, but Taveras responded that he did not believe he would have the right to do that and would need to speak with the supervisor of security, the indictment says.
De Oliveira reiterated that "the boss" wanted it done and asked, "what are we going to do?" according to the indictment.
That conversation took place in late June 2022, just a few weeks before the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, the indictment says. After the search, it alleges, Nauta called another Trump employee and asked about De Oliveira. The unnamed Trump employee told Nauta that De Oliveira was loyal and would not do anything to affect his relationship with Trump, according to the indictment.
Nauta later wrote in a Signal chat with the representative of a Trump PAC that De Oliveira was loyal, and Trump later called De Oliveira and told the maintenance worker that Trump would get him a lawyer, the indictment says.
Trump blasted the Department of Justice in an interview with Fox News after the indictment was announced, calling the charges "ridiculous" and accusing the department of "prosecutorial misconduct."
“It’s election interference at the highest level,” said Trump, who leads the GOP field in polls on the 2024 presidential race. “They’re harassing my company, they’re harassing my family and by far, least importantly of all, they’re harassing me.”
Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty, and a trial has been set for May.