Donald Trump Faces New Obstruction of Justice Charges. Sarah Murray begins our coverage with the very latest on these new charges. Sarah, out of seemingly nowhere, what do we know?
Yeah, John, I mean, obviously, the biggest deal in this is that Donald Trump is already facing several charges. Now he’s facing several more. One of them is another willful retention of documents charge. It’s related to that very sensitive Iran document that we’ve talked about before, which he showed to people in a meeting. We’ll talk more about that in a second. But the other ones are related to what prosecutors say is an alleged scheme to try to delete surveillance video. Those charges include altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing an object and corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing a document, record, or other object. According to the indictment, there’s a new defendant in this case, Carlos de Oliveira, who is now allegedly involved in this scheme to try to delete the surveillance video. It’s after the government has visited Mar-a-Lago, and they’ve subpoenaed him to return all documents with classification markings. When they go to pick it up, they notice that there are surveillance cameras outside the storage room where these documents are being kept. They then subpoena the Trump organization for these surveillance videos.
After that subpoena, in late June 2022, De Oliveira is talking to another Trump employee about the surveillance footage. According to the indictment, he asked this other Trump employee how many days this server retains the footage. The employee says it’s 45 days. De Oliveira then goes to the Trump employee and says, “The boss wants the server deleted,” and he asks, “What are we going to do?” So that’s really the heart of the scheme to try to delete this surveillance footage that is new and even this indictment. But let’s go back to that additional willful retention of documents charge because this is a document we’ve talked a lot about. Donald Trump talked about it in a meeting he had in July of 2021 at Bedminster with folks who were writing a book about Mark Meadows. Take a listen to how Donald Trump talked about that document at the time.
“This was the defense department and him. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me. This was him. All sorts of stuff. Pages long. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found… Isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, except it is highly confidential.”
And John, this is notable because since the first version of this indictment came out since that tape came out, Trump has said he had no document. It was all bravado. The government is making it clear in this new indictment that this was not the case.
All right. As we said, a big development among so many others. Sarah Murray, thank you for bringing us up to speed on this. I expect we’ll be speaking to you again soon. Thank you. Rihel.
All right, John, let’s go over now. What we know about this new defendant. Right now, it’s not a lot. Carlos de Oliveira, as we said, is his name, and he’s the property manager at Mar-a-Lago. He was previously a valet there. We know that he’s 56 years old, and he’s now accused of helping move boxes of documents after the Justice Department first subpoenaed the former President. This happened in May of last year. De Oliveira spoke with the FBI earlier this year in January, and that’s when investigators say he lied about helping or knowing about moving the boxes. Well, he has now been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, destroying or concealing a document, record, or other object, and making false statements. Now, we should say that CNN has reached out to his lawyer, John Irving. We have not heard back, but Irving is among the lawyers whose firm received nearly $200,000 in payments for legal services from Donald Trump’s Save America Pack. De Oliveira is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Miami. John, that is expected to happen this Monday. Many more things to watch.
That’s right, we’ll be watching that. Okay, with us now, former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti, and chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller. Renato, let me just start with you. What’s different this morning than yesterday? Yes, Donald Trump faces these additional charges, but what, if anything, about these charges makes his legal predicament different?
Well, one thing, John, is they now have found the document that was being referred to in that recording we just heard. I think that’s important. Ultimately, that is some of the best evidence that Jack Smith has. It’s evidence that makes it clear that Trump admits that the document wasn’t declassified. We now know in the indictment that document was top secret. He’s going to be able to show that document to the jury. I think that’s important. And look, trying to delete and destroy surveillance footage, that is very explosive, and it’s just going to be hard to explain away. All of the stuff about classified documents for a lot of people might be hard to get their heads around, but it’s very hard for me to believe the jurors are going to not be able to understand that when you’re deleting footage, when the FBI is investigating you, that means you know you’ve done something wrong.
And Renato, stand by for a moment. I want to bring John Miller into this conversation. John, just the sheer amount of investigation that went into this, thinking about potentially putting this in front of a jury when you have so much audio, photos, and surveillance. I mean, in terms of the prosecutors being able to say, “Hey, don’t just listen to what we’re telling you he did. We can actually show you, you can hear this for yourself. You can see this for yourself.” I mean, talk about how powerful that is potentially for the prosecutors.
Well, the timeline that was just laid out on this broadcast really tells a story. But if you dig just one layer deeper, the original indictment’s focus was, first, you have these documents, they shouldn’t be there, they shouldn’t be in your possession. The second piece is the obstruction, which is when we demanded these documents back, we see on videotape people moving them around. So you’re trying to hide them, and you lied to your lawyer about it, who made false representations to us because he believed it to be true. But this is a layer deeper because when you bring a charge that says that multiple people conspired, allegedly on instructions from Donald Trump, to not just obstruct justice by moving the things around, but then try to find and delete the videos that showed them moving them around, you are in a new zone here because you have an obstruction of justice being committed to conceal the original obstruction of justice charge.
It’s an obstruction on top of another obstruction?
It’s an obstruction of an obstruction. And that really fills out in this superseding indictment, the conspiracy where Donald Trump reached deliberately past his lawyers, who presumably would have said, “You can’t do this,” and literally to the lowest levels of the organization, people who might be expendable, his valet, the head of maintenance, and said, “Take care of these things.” There. Read more.