Mar-a-Lago employee 'almost certainly' flipped against Trump in classified docs case: legal expert

Mar-a-Lago employee 'almost certainly' flipped against Trump in classified docs case: legal expert
Former President Donald Trump in Phoenix in July 2021 (Gage Skidmore)

A Mar-a-Lago employee targeted by investigators in the classified documents probe has "almost certainly" flipped against Donald Trump, according to a report.

Yuscil Taveras has been identified in an updated indictment as "Trump Employee 4," who received a target letter when the former president from special counsel Jack Smith when Trump first got indicted in June. While it's not entirely clear whether he's cooperating with prosecutors, legal experts say there was plenty of evidence that he's talking, reported Salon.

"Taveras is almost certainly cooperating because if he was served a target letter, he wouldn't talk to the government unless he was proffering evidence or attempting to cooperate," said former federal prosecutor Christine Adams, now a partner at Los Angeles-based Adams, Duerk & Kamenstein.

Some of the new allegations in a superseding indictment against Trump came from information Taveras provided after receiving the target letter, including his claim that fellow employee Carlos De Oliveira asked him how to delete surveillance video at Mar-a-Lago in late June 2022, saying "the boss" wanted the footage destroyed.

"[Tavaras said] he would not know how to do that, and that he did not believe that he would have the rights to do that," the indictment states.

De Oliveira was charged in the updated indictment, joining Trump and his longtime valet Walt Nauta, but Taveras is not facing charges in the classified documents case, and Adams said his testimony could prove useful to investigators.

"Prosecutors can correlate that footage to what was occurring around the same time, which was that Trump and Nauta had talked on the phone before the boxes were moved, and before an attorney was scheduled to arrive at Mar-a-Lago to review the documents," Adams told Salon.

"Testimony from Taveras authenticating surveillance footage of the boxes being moved and authenticating the time stamps for when the video was captured would be key to proving that Trump ordered the boxes to be moved to hide evidence," Adams added. "It's the timing that matters."

Taveras changed lawyers after receiving the target letter, because attorney Stan Woodward, who was paid by a Trump-aligned PAC, had a conflict due to his representation of Nauta.

"The government needs other people who can testify to what the defendants did and what they said," Adams said. "Taveras was at the property. He might have observed other events connected with moving the boxes or he may have been present during other conversations that could shed light on the intent of removing the documents. He might have incriminating text messages."

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