WASHINGTON — A witness in the criminal case against Donald Trump over the hoarding of classified documents retracted “prior false testimony” after switching lawyers last month and provided new information that implicated the former president, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
The new information from the witness, a Trump staffer identified only as the director of information technology at Mar-a-Lago, was presented to prosecutors weeks before special counsel Jack Smith secured an updated indictment accusing Trump and two others in a plot to delete surveillance video at the Florida property.
Prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday that the witness told a grand jury in Washington in March that he could not recall any conversations about the security footage.
But in July, after being advised by prosecutors that he was a target of the investigation and after being advised that his lawyer might have a conflict of interest because of his representation of others in the probe, the witness received a new attorney from the federal defender’s office and provided the Justice Department with information that helped form the basis of the revised indictment against Trump, his valet Walt Nauta and a third defendant, Carlos De Oliveira, the court filing says.
Prosecutors described the witness interaction in a filing that seeks a hearing in Florida about potential conflicts of interest involving the defense lawyer, Stanley Woodward, who also represents Nauta. Woodward declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press. They said that encounter helps explain why they continued to use a grand jury in Washington to investigate potential false statements in that district even after they had secured an indictment in Florida, where Mar-a-Lago is located.
“The target letter to Trump Employee 4 crystallized a conflict of interest arising from Mr. Woodward’s concurrent representation of Trump Employee 4 and Nauta,” prosecutors wrote.
They added: “Advising Trump Employee 4 to correct his sworn testimony would result in testimony incriminating Mr. Woodward’s other client, Nauta; but permitting Trump Employee 4’s false testimony to stand uncorrected would leave Trump Employee 4 exposed to criminal charges for perjury.”
A trial has been set for May 20, 2024, in the classified documents case. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.
Trump is facing another prosecution by Smith, over efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, as well as a criminal case in Georgia over attempts to subvert that state’s vote and another in New York in connection with hush money payments to a porn actor.
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