A key witness in the Trump classified docs case changed his testimony after switching lawyers, special counsel says

A key witness against former President Donald Trump and his two co-defendants in the Mar-a-Lago documents case recanted previous false testimony and provided new information implicating the defendants after switching lawyers, according to a new court filing by special counsel Jack Smith’s office.

Yuscil Taveras, the director of information technology at Mar-a-Lago, changed his testimony in July regarding efforts to delete security camera footage at Trump’s Florida club after changing from a lawyer paid for by Trump’s Save America PAC to a public defender, according to Tuesday’s filing.

The revised testimony led to last month’s superseding indictment against Trump and his two co-defendants.

Taveras decided to change lawyers after learning he was being investigated for making false statements during his previous grand jury testimony in Washington, D.C., the court filing said.

“Immediately after receiving new counsel, Trump Employee 4 retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, (Carlos) De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage, as set forth in the superseding indictment,” the filing said.

The filing identifies Taveras as “Trump Employee 4.” NBC News previously reported that Taveras is employee No. 4.

Taveras’ now-former lawyer is Stanley Woodward. Woodward also represents Trump’s co-defendant Walt Nauta and a variety of other Trump-world figures.

Woodward declined comment Tuesday on the special counsel’s new filing. NBC News has reached out to Taveras for comment.

Prosecutors outlined the change in testimony in a motion on their request for a hearing on Woodward’s possible conflicts.

They said that during the course of their investigation, they obtained “evidence that Trump employee Carlos De Oliveira tried to enlist the director of information technology for Mar-a-Lago (identified in the superseding indictment as Trump Employee 4) to delete Mar-a-Lago security footage after the grand jury in the District of Columbia had issued a subpoena for the footage.”

“When Trump Employee 4 testified before the grand jury in the District of Columbia in March 2023, he repeatedly denied or claimed not to recall any contacts or conversations about the security footage at Mar-a-Lago,” the filing said.

By late June, prosecutors “advised Trump Employee 4 (through Mr. Woodward) that he was the target of a grand jury investigation in the District of Columbia into whether he committed perjury.”

The target letter “crystallized a conflict of interest arising from Mr. Woodward’s concurrent representation of Trump Employee 4 and Nauta. 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,” the filing said.

Prosecutors asked for a hearing on the representation issue before Chief Judge James Boasberg, who oversaw the grand jury investigation. The judge had a federal defender available to advise Taveras on how to proceed.

“On July 5, 2023, Trump Employee 4 informed Chief Judge Boasberg that he no longer wished to be represented by Mr. Woodward and that, going forward, he wished to be represented by the First Assistant Federal Defender,” the filing said. “Immediately after receiving new counsel, Trump Employee 4 retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage.”

Shelli Peterson — First Assistant Federal Public Defender in Washington, D.C., who is referenced in the special counsel’s filing — declined comment Tuesday night.

Peterson, who has represented numerous defendants in high-profile cases, initially represented another Woodward client: former Trump State Department employee Federico Klein, who was convicted on multiple felony counts last month in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. Woodward one day was late for a hearing in the Klein case because he was representing Trump aide William Russell during his testimony before the grand jury that indicted Trump in the election interference case.

Taveras is at least the second person to offer new testimony after switching from an attorney with ties to Trump. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave investigators from the House Jan. 6 committee more damaging testimony about Trump and Meadows’ conduct in the leadup to the Capitol riot after parting ways with her first Trump-allied lawyer.