In an unexpected turn of events on Tuesday night, an employee at the Mar-a-Lago resort owned by former President Donald Trump has reportedly “abruptly retracted his earlier grand jury testimony and implicated Trump and others in obstruction of justice,” according to a filing by Special Counsel Jack Smith, as reported by Politico.
The employee, identified by Politico as Yuscil Taveras, was Mar-a-Lago’s director of information technology. He has shifted legal representation from a lawyer affiliated with a Trump PAC to a lawyer from the federal defender’s office. Taveras is now apparently prepared to testify that the former president directly ordered the deletion of potentially incriminating videos.
The reports suggest that Taveras has provided a detailed account of the alleged effort to tamper with evidence tied to an investigation concerning the handling of classified information stored at Trump’s Florida residence.
The filing was prompted by a question from U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon about why Smith’s office continued to gather evidence from the grand jury in Washington even after charges were filed in Florida.
This change in Taveras’ stance occurred several months ago and preceded the issuance of the superseding indictment against Trump in the case of the document. The grand jury’s proceedings in Washington have now concluded, as mentioned in the filing.
Taveras is referred to as “Trump Employee 4” in the legal documents. Prosecutors have indicated their intention to call him as a trial witness, expecting him to testify about the conduct outlined in the superseding indictment related to efforts to delete security footage. Taveras is likely to face cross-examination regarding his inconsistent statements made during his grand jury testimony, which he disavowed after obtaining new legal counsel.
CNN had previously reported that Taveras received a target letter this summer and had met with prosecutors, although he had not been formally charged with a crime. Information obtained from Taveras’ interview reportedly contributed to the content of the superseding indictment.
The filing suggests that Carlos De Oliveira, another individual mentioned in the documents, tried to engage Taveras to delete security footage from Mar-a-Lago after a subpoena for the footage had been issued by the grand jury in the District of Columbia.
This development reinforces the common perception that among the multiple criminal cases against the former president, the case of the document in Florida holds the most substantial weight. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) labeled the documents case a “slam dunk” and called for Trump to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) also remarked that the case grew stronger with the additional charges.
While there has been speculation about the possibility of one of the 18 other defendants in the Georgia RICO case turning against Trump, such an occurrence has not materialized.