Mar-a-Lago IT head strikes deal to testify in Trump trial over secret documents hoard, prosecutor says

Key witness to case againt former president will testify over alleged attempts to thwart government retrieval of classified papers

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 06 September 2023 18:13 BST
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Donald Trump’s head of IT at Mar-a-Lago has struck a deal to testify in the former president’s trial over the secret documents hoard, a prosecutor says.

He entered into a deal with prosecutors to provide testimony, his former attorney said in a Wednesday court filing.

As one of the key witnesses in the case accusing Mr Trump of mishandling classified documents after leaving office, the deal was reached after Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office threatened to prosecute the witness for lying to a grand jury, attorney, Stanley Woodward, said in the filing.

Mr Woodward currently represents Walt Nauta, one of the two Trump employees also charged in the documents case, in addition to having previously represented the IT head, who is not named in Wednesday’s filing.

Prosecutors have said the employee is likely to testify at trial, posing a potential conflict of interest for Mr Woodward, who will face the prospect of a former client testifying against a current client.

Mr Woodward has not opposed the request for US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over the case, to hold a hearing on the issue. But he suggested in Wednesday’s filing that prosecutors’ handling of the IT manager’s testimony was improper.

Prosecutors previously said that the witness, who has been identified by media outlets Politico and CNN as Yuscil Taveras but who is not named in the court filings, had information about alleged efforts by Trump’s personal aide Mr Nauta and others to obstruct the classified documents investigation.

His current attorney had no immediate comment, Reuters reports.

Prosecutors have charged Mr Trump, Mr Nauta and a third Mar-a-Lago employee, Carlos De Oliveira, with trying to thwart government efforts to retrieve sensitive documents taken to the Florida resort after the former president left office. All three have pleaded not guilty.

A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. Mr Woodward also declined to comment.

Prosecutors said in an August court filing that the witness initially denied any knowledge of obstruction.

After receiving a letter from the special counsel’s office threatening him with prosecution, he dropped Mr Woodward as his attorney and then detailed alleged efforts to delete security camera footage at Mar-a-Lago, they said.

Mr Woodward rejected the prosecutors’ account in Wednesday’s filing, saying the IT employee provided new testimony to the grand jury only after being offered a non-prosecution deal, which was reached after he was no longer representing the employee.

The case is one of four criminal prosecutions of Mr Trump. He has denied wrongdoing in all four of them.

With reporting from Reuters

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