Former President Donald Trump and two of his aides were hit with new charges in the Mar-a-Lago documents case on Thursday.
A grand jury in South Florida returned a superseding indictment adding four charges to the prior indictment against Trump and aide Walt Nauta. Another aide, Carlos De Oliveira, the Mar-a-Lago head of maintenance, was also added to the obstruction conspiracy charged in the original indictment.
The indictment alleges that De Oliveira told another employee that “the boss” wanted the server with Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage deleted and asked how long the footage was stored.
“What are we going to do?” he allegedly said.
The alleged exchange came after Trump’s team received a subpoena for the security footage, according to the indictment.
The new indictment charges Trump with two new obstruction counts and with allegedly possessing the classified document he was heard discussing in an audio recording of a meeting at his Bedminster, N.J. golf club. Trump in the audio bragged that he had a classified Iran war plan that he could not show others because he hadn’t declassified it. He has since denied that he was in possession of the document.
But the new indictment alleges that he did have it and that it was marked “TOP SECRET” and involved a “Presentation concerning military activity in a foreign country.”
Trump and Nauta pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges against them.
National security attorney Mark Zaid said the indictment “reads like organized crime activity,” citing the “compelling” text messages and video footage cited in the document.
Former Manhattan prosecutor Karen Friedman Agnifilo told CNN that the indictment “reads like a spy novel.”
“That’s what you would do. You would try to… wipe out the video footage,” she said. “I mean, it’s just astonishing that this is what Trump wanted to do! He wanted to destroy evidence of a crime! I mean, that’s really what this is.”
CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams said that the timeline laid out by the indictment is “devastating.”
“They start communicating about what the boss’ wishes are and immediately took steps to delete this footage,” he said Friday. “All of that is pretty lock, stock and barrel evidence of obstruction of justice.”
Fellow CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig argued that the charge related to the Iran document was the “single most important” part of the indictment.
“Those papers he was shuffling, yes, they were classified documents, they’re related to war plans, and DOJ has that document. That is now a new charge in this indictment,” he said.
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“And that makes that incident so much worse than just Donald Trump exaggerating or bragging or bluffing, as he has suggested,” Honig added. “This means he actually had that classified document in his possession. He was showing it to others, he was bragging about it, he was disseminating it, to use the legalistic word.”
But some legal experts also warned that the new charges could delay the trial in the case.
Defense attorney Ken White told Insider that adding De Oliveira was a “big change” that could “delay things a couple of months.”
“I think it’s an appropriate move,” adding that considerations about the election timeline is “not a legitimate line of inquiry for a prosecutor.”
“One thing is clear from today’s superseding indictment — Jack Smith is more concerned about making the best possible case he can against Donald Trump than he is about rushing to the finish line,” tweeted former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. “Adding another defendant can slow things down, but it also strengthens his hand.”
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