A former maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago, now being eyed as a key witness to an attempt to conceal evidence from the government, retracted his grand jury testimony after switching lawyers, prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office said in a Tuesday filing.
The unidentified staffer, named only as “Trump Employee 4” in the filing, but suspected to be Yuscil Taveras, who oversaw the club’s security camera system, initially told a grand jury that he hadn’t been privy to any attempt to delete security footage.
But after dumping his lawyer, Stanley Woodward, for another attorney offered up by the federal defender’s office in Washington, Taveras quickly reversed course.
“Immediately after receiving new counsel,” Smith’s office said in the filing, Taveras retracted his prior testimony and “provided information that implicated” Trump and his two alleged co-conspirators “in efforts to delete security camera footage.”
Sources familiar with the matter told ABC News that Taveras’ decision to switch lawyers and cooperate with Smith’s office came after he received a target letter from Smith in June, indicating he knew Taveras had perjured himself during his grand jury testimony, and warning of possible criminal charges.
Under the terms of their agreement, in exchange for his truthful testimony on the obstruction allegations, Smith will not prosecute Taveras for perjury.
One of Trump’s co-conspirators, Walt Nauta, the former president’s so-called “Diet Coke valet,” is also being represented by Woodward. The attorney, who boasts a number of connections to MAGA World, has had his legal bills for the case footed by Trump’s Save America PAC.
Earlier this month, when Taveras was still being represented by Woodward, prosecutors questioned whether the lawyer was fronting too many defendants and witnesses in the case, raising the specter of a conflict of interest.
They said in an Aug. 2 filing that Woodward had represented at least seven people interviewed by prosecutors probing the case. The filing noted that at least two of those clients, including Taveras, could be called as government witnesses in the trial—at which point Woodward would have to cross-examine them as he defends Nauta.
In the filing, Smith’s office called for Judge Aileen Cannon to hold a “Garcia” hearing in the matter. The purpose of Tuesday’s filing was to add further weight to the prosecution’s case for a hearing.
Lawyers for the co-defendants have strongly pushed back on the need for a hearing, suggesting that an alternative route might be to bar Taveras from testifying at all. On Tuesday, prosecutors said this would be an “unprecedented” error.
They also reiterated that they still anticipate calling Taveras to the stand, where he will still “very likely” be cross-examined about his prior false testimony by Woodward.
Also charged in the case is Carlos de Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago property manager, who was added to a superseding indictment in the case after Taveras’ about-face. Both Trump and Nauta were hit with new obstruction charges in the superseding indictment.
All three have pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case.
Taveras met with prosecutors just a week before the superseding indictment was returned last month, according to ABC News. In that interview, he denied that he’d been coached by anyone to give false testimony, sources told the outlet.
Rather, Taveras reportedly said, he hadn’t wanted to get more deeply involved in the case, motivated by the fear of losing his job. It was not immediately clear on Tuesday whether he still works at Mar-a-Lago.