A key witness against former President Donald Trump and his two co-defendants in the Mar-a-Lago documents case recanted previous false testimony and provided new information implicating the defendants after he switched lawyers, special counsel Jack Smith’s office said in a new court filing.
Yuscil Taveras, the director of information technology at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's club in Palm Beach, Florida, changed his testimony last month about efforts to delete security camera video at the club after he changed from a lawyer paid for by Trump’s Save America PAC to a public defender, Tuesday's filing says.
The revised testimony led to last month's superseding indictment against Trump and his two co-defendants.
Taveras decided to change lawyers after he learned he was being investigated on suspicion of having made false statements in his previous grand jury testimony in Washington, D.C., the court filing says.
“Immediately after receiving new counsel, Trump Employee 4 retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, [Carlos] De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage, as set forth in the superseding indictment,” the filing says.
The filing identifies Taveras as “Trump Employee 4.” NBC News previously reported that Taveras is Employee No. 4.
Taveras’ former lawyer is Stanley Woodward, who also represents Trump’s co-defendant Walt Nauta and a variety of other Trump world figures.
Woodward declined to comment Tuesday on the special counsel's new filing. Taveras did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Prosecutors outlined the change in testimony in a motion on their request for a hearing about Woodward's possible conflicts.
They said they obtained "evidence that Trump employee Carlos De Oliveira tried to enlist the director of information technology for Mar-a-Lago (identified in the superseding indictment as Trump Employee 4) to delete Mar-a-Lago security footage after the grand jury in the District of Columbia had issued a subpoena for the footage."
"When Trump Employee 4 testified before the grand jury in the District of Columbia in March 2023, he repeatedly denied or claimed not to recall any contacts or conversations about the security footage at Mar-a-Lago," the filing says.
By late June, prosecutors had "advised Trump Employee 4 (through Mr. Woodward) that he was the target of a grand jury investigation in the District of Columbia into whether he committed perjury."
The target letter "crystallized a conflict of interest arising from Mr. Woodward’s concurrent representation of Trump Employee 4 and Nauta. Advising Trump Employee 4 to correct his sworn testimony would result in testimony incriminating Mr. Woodward’s other client, Nauta; but permitting Trump Employee 4’s false testimony to stand uncorrected would leave Trump Employee 4 exposed to criminal charges for perjury," the filing says.
Prosecutors asked for a hearing on the representation issue before James Boasberg, the chief U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., who oversaw the grand jury investigation. Boasberg had a federal defender available to advise Taveras about how to proceed.
"On July 5, 2023, Trump Employee 4 informed Chief Judge Boasberg that he no longer wished to be represented by Mr. Woodward and that, going forward, he wished to be represented by the First Assistant Federal Defender," the filing said. "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."
Shelli Peterson — the first assistant federal public defender in Washington, whom the special counsel's filing refers to — declined to comment Tuesday night.
Peterson, who has represented numerous defendants in high-profile cases, initially represented another Woodward client: former Trump State Department employee Federico Klein, who was convicted on multiple felony counts last month in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Woodward one day was late for a hearing in the Klein case because he was representing Trump aide William Russell in his testimony before the grand jury that indicted Trump in the election interference case.
Taveras is at least the second person to have offered new testimony after having switched from an attorney with ties to Trump. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave investigators from the House Jan. 6 committee more damaging testimony about Trump's and Meadows' conduct in the lead-up to the Capitol riot after she parted ways with her first Trump-allied lawyer.