What to know
- A superseding federal indictment in Donald Trump’s classified documents case has added Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago maintenance supervisor, as a third defendant in the case.
- The updated Florida indictment also adds several new charges for both Trump and his aide Walt Nauta.
- In Washington, Trump’s lawyers met with members of special counsel Jack Smith’s team and were told to expect an indictment, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. Trump denies his attorneys were given “notice” of forthcoming charges.
- That indictment would stem from Smith’s investigation into 2020 election interference and Jan. 6, 2021. He has been indicted two other times.
Smith zeroes in on 'consciousness of guilt' with security footage claim
This superseding indictment helps flesh out the prosecutors’ story, their theory of the case. We had already seen, in detail, the allegations about Trump keeping the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, and then trying to squirrel them away and hide them when the authorities tried to get them back.
This helps provide insight into what prosecutors would talk about as a "consciousness of guilt." The theory he that he actually attempted to engage in a conspiracy — an agreement with others — to delete the security footage. There is no reason for you to delete the security footage if you didn’t think you did anything wrong. And so prosecutors would want to be able to use that to tell a story to the jury that would make sense.
This is an excerpt from "All in With Chris Hayes" moments ago. It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.
Trump responds: ‘The charges are ridiculous’
Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News Digital that the special counsel’s new charges amounted to “election interference” and harassment. The embattled former president, who may soon be facing a third indictment over his role in 2020 election interference scams, attacked the prosecution with characteristic hyperbole — and zero supporting evidence.
“This is prosecutorial misconduct used at a level never seen before,” Trump claimed. “If I weren’t leading Biden by a lot in numerous polls, and wasn’t going to be the Republican nominee, it wouldn’t be happening. It wouldn’t be happening.”
A Trump campaign spokesperson repeated similar claims while attacking Smith with language that frankly seems unnecessary to repeat here.
Why the Trump case is so different from Pence, Biden probes
The new, serious charges added by Jack Smith should hopefully stop any lingering bad faith comparisons between Trump, Pence and Biden.
Trump has complained that he is being held to a double standard because both Joe Biden and Mike Pence improperly retained a limited number of documents. But both Biden and Pence moved quickly to turn over the documents once they found them, and very notably, cooperated with investigators.
Trump, according to prosecutors, did something quite different. Indeed, the superseding indictment further details alleged efforts to cover up the existence of confidential documents at Mar-a-Lago. That's a big deal — and a big difference.
What stands out about the Bedminster document charge
Sometimes it takes me a while to digest what’s new in a superseding indictment, and Count 32 of the indictment filed today in the Mar-a-Lago records case is no exception.
First, in the wake of the initial indictment, there was public reporting that the special counsel did not know for sure whether they had the actual document Trump waived around at Bedminster. There was even speculation that he might have been waiving a newspaper or nothing at all, and that as bad as it sounded, we couldn’t be sure he actually revealed classified information to those assembled. Trump even denied in late June that there was any document at all in interviews with Fox News, Semafor and ABC News.
But now, they are stating clearly, “The document that TRUMP possessed and showed on July 21, 2021, is charged as Count 32 in this Superseding Indictment.” So the Special Counsel’s office ultimately located the document.
Second, we know WHERE they found it! The chart accompanying Counts 1-32 reflects that the document in Count 32 was returned not on June 3, 2022, the date of the meeting between Evan Corcoran and DOJ’s Jay Bratt and FBI representatives, but on January 17, 2022. That’s when the first 15 boxes that Trump took from the White House were returned to the National Archives.
But again, recall the superseding indictment states unambiguously that Count 32 concerns the document Trump showed at Bedminster. That means, to my mind, that at least one of the participants in that meeting — the writer or publisher of Meadows’s book, Margo Martin, and/or Liz Harrington — must have been shown the document and confirmed that it was the document Trump displayed to them that day.
The mystery of the no-longer missing Bedminster document
One of the new charges against Trump adds onto the 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information” that he’d already be hit with. Specifically, he’s now charged with holding onto the document he’d been waving around in the now-infamous Bedminster meeting in 2021. Helpfully, that’s made obvious in the text of the newly released charging document: “The document that TRUMP possessed and showed on July 21, 2021, is charged as Count 32 in this Superseding Indictment.”
Interestingly, the counts against Trump related to his keeping the classified documents all list the “dates of the offense,” or when the alleged crime took place. All of those dates begin with Jan. 21, 2021, the day Trump left office; many of them give Aug. 8, 2022, the day of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, as the end date. All the rest of the original charges list June 3, 2022, when the supposedly “complete” set of documents were returned under subpoena. But this newest charge lists the date as January 17, 2022 — the day that Trump originally returned 15 boxes of materials to the National Archives.
That suggests Trump had handed it back in prior to the original Justice Department investigation and before the subpoenas had begun flowing in. It also seems to imply that the DOJ has had it this whole time, despite having issued a subpoena to Trump’s attorneys to fork it over earlier this year. Trump’s lawyers said in mid-March that they couldn’t find it — which makes sense considering they didn’t actually have it at the time.
I, for one, would love to know the backstory on how that document finally turned up. But the fact that it was among the Mar-a-Lago documents means that it eventually made its way back from New Jersey to Florida, leaving Smith able to add it to the charges he’d already filed against Trump in South Florida.
Trump's Hillary Clinton email accusations hit different now
With these new charges, it's hard not to think about Trump relentlessly going after Hillary Clinton during the so-called email scandal ahead of the 2016 election.
Trump and Republicans accused Clinton of deleting emails to hide her use of a private email server while secretary of state. (The FBI investigated the matter and ultimately did not recommend charges against her.) Still, Trump and his allies have continued to bring up the emails — as recently as last month.
Interestingly, Trump is now accused of wanting one of his employees to delete a server with security footage on it. Surely, Republicans will be up in arms over his alleged effort to cover up potential wrongdoing.
‘Make sure Carlos is good’
Today’s new superseding indictment includes quite a few nuggets of new information, including dialogue between the employees who allegedly helped obstruct and conceal Trump’s confidential document hoarding habit.
According to the indictment, on Aug. 26, 2022, Walt Nauta called an unidentified Trump employee to “make sure Carlos [De Oliveira] is good.” The employee told Nauta not to worry. “That same day, at Nauta’s request, Trump Employee 5 confirmed in a Signal chat” that De Oliveira “was loyal,” the indictment says.
Shortly thereafter, Trump told De Oliveira he would secure him a lawyer. It seems like De Oliveira will need it.
Three new charges for Trump
Those new charges are:
- one additional count of willful retention of national defense information; and
- two additional counts of obstruction related to deleting security cam footage.
Smith: Trump wanted Mar-a-Lago security footage destroyed
Even before the original indictment dropped, it was widely reported that security camera footage at Mar-a-Lago was key to Smith’s investigation. Prosecutors were able to use that footage to allege that co-defendant Walt Nauta, on Trump’s orders, moved multiple boxes containing presidential documents out of the room where they were being stored. With today’s superseding indictment, Smith alleges that Trump and newly added co-conspirator De Oliveira wanted that footage destroyed before the feds could get their hands on it.
According to the superseding indictment, on the same day that Trump’s lawyers received the final grand jury subpoena demanding, among other things, footage from Mar-a-Lago’s cameras, Nauta rushed to Florida rather than the planned trip Trump was taking. Nauta then spoke with De Oliveira, who later allegedly told a fellow Trump employee “that ‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted.” When that employee told De Oliveira that it would require a different staffer to actually erase the footage, De Oliveira alleged insisted again “that ‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted and asked, ‘What are we going to do?’”
The answer is apparently “not much,” since the footage was eventually turned over to the feds. But there allegedly was an attempt made to dispose of what turned out to be incriminating evidence, and that’s enough for an obstruction of justice charge.
Read new indictment document charging Mar-a-Lago worker
The 60-page superseding indictment lists new charges against Donald Trump, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker.
Click below to read the full document:
Who is Carlos De Oliveira?
In a surprise move, special counsel Jack Smith has added Carlos De Oliveira as a third defendant in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. De Oliveira is a 56-year-old employee of Mar-a-Lago. Currently the head of maintenance, he has also worked other jobs at Trump’s Florida club, and at one time served as a valet.
Prosecutors had previously investigated De Oliveira after he was observed on Mar-a-Lago security cameras moving boxes around a storage area.
Third defendant charged in Trump classified docs case
A third defendant has been added in Trump’s classified documents case. Carlos de Oliveira, a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago, has been charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to obstruct justice; altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing an object; corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing a document, record or other object; and false statements and representations.
De Oliveira’s lawyer, John Irving, declined to comment to NBC News moments ago.
What might have happened with the grand jury today
They've obviously had a very long day. That's somewhat unusual. They appeared to have started before 9 a.m. ET — that's a long day.
So there are 3 possibilities:
- They weren't asked to vote about anything.
- They voted a public indictment
- They voted a sealed indictment.
The one option that seems unlikely is that they voted a public indictment because that's something that would have to be filed and everyone would see it. We just don't know if they weren't asked to vote at all or whether they voted a sealed indictment, which is something they did in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.
It's clear no matter what, for those people wondering if there's movement, there clearly is based on the long day and the fact that the defense camp made its last-ditch appeal to Jack Smith's office. But it's still a wait-and-see to know when the former president is going to be charged again.
Based on the fact that the defense lawyers spoke to Smith's office, assuming that didn't lead to any headway, they may ask to speak to the main Justice Department. The lawyers at the main DOJ have a limited role under the special counsel rules and that is to determine whether what Smith is doing is such an abusive discretion that they will say, "No, you cannot go forward with all of it or some part of it." As we know from last time, that also did not avail the defense team in the classified documents case.
The grand jury sits on Tuesdays and Thursdays so they could return on Tuesday. It's also possible to bring the grand jury in on a day they aren't normally scheduled on if there's some very good reason for it.
This is an excerpt from Andrew Weissmann's appearance on "Deadline: White House" moments ago. It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.
Good night, grand jurors
The grand jurors hearing evidence in Smith's 2020 election probe are starting to depart the federal courthouse, NBC News reports.
Grand jury not handing down indictment today
The federal grand jury hearing evidence in the 2020 election interference investigation will not hand down any indictment today, a court spokesperson told Reuters.
Trump was indicted in the classified documents case on June 8, three days after his lawyers met with Smith's team. That doesn't mean the timing can't be different this time around, but it's worth keeping in mind.
No grand jury returns today — but indictment news still possible
NBC News' Ryan Reilly reported moments ago that a courtroom deputy said no grand juries returned indictments today and they aren't expecting any today.
But, as NBC News' Ken Dilanian just said on MSNBC moments ago, that doesn't mean we won't hear of an indictment today.
"I just want to caution folks — that doesn't mean 100% that we're not going to hear about some kind of action today," Dilanian said. "Because it's very possible that an indictment had previously been returned and handed up and has been under seal for some period of time. That's actually the normal course of things in the D.C. federal courts. When indictments are handed up, they are sealed for some period of time."
Despite the courtroom deputy's comment, the grand jury is continuing to meet at the courthouse at this moment.
4 reasons an indictment could come as soon as today
As the day continues, Trump has denied that his team was notified that an indictment is coming. But other signs indicate that we could expect an indictment as soon as today.
- Jack Smith’s grand jury on election interference has been spotted in the courthouse today with no witnesses in sight.
- Trump concedes that his lawyers met with the special counsel’s office earlier today, one of the last events to take place before an indictment is presented to a grand jury.
- NBC News has spotted representatives of the U.S. Park Police and Washington's Metropolitan Police Department, along with other law enforcement, gathered outside the federal courthouse, a natural step for those who will need to plan and provide security in the event of an arraignment. "Among the officers that entered the DC courthouse this afternoon was Metropolitan Police Department commander Jason Bagshaw who is known in Washington for his unit’s patrol of protests in the city," Daily Beast reporter Zachary Petrizzo tweeted earlier this afternoon.
- House votes have been canceled for tomorrow, which could reflect GOP leadership’s concerns about their members being barraged by press and/or the weight of security concerns or both.
In other words, Trump’s Truth Social post could be technically accurate: His lawyers might not have been told directly during that meeting to prepare for an indictment. But could the 45th president nonetheless be indicted today? Sure could.
Security concerns remain, but past indictment-related protests have been mild
As reported by NBC News’ Ryan Reilly, law enforcement members were seen meeting outside the federal courthouse in Washington, ahead of Trump’s likely indictment.
Before the former president’s prior two indictments so far this year, officials and experts expressed concerns over security challenges — whether Trump’s supporters attempting to interfere in the process, or clashes between those supporters and opponents. Those fears were further stoked when Republicans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called for protests.
In the end, though, turnout from Trump’s most loyal supporters fell short of expectations for both arraignments. Just a few hundred showed in New York, where Greene spoke mostly to an audience of reporters before hustling away.
Even in Florida, Trump’s adopted home, only a couple thousand supporters appeared.
“Maybe Trump finally has exhausted his base with his constant hysteria,” wrote MSNBC columnist Zeeshan Aleem at the time. Whatever the reason, one hopes that the pattern of calm will repeat itself in the future
Harry Dunn: 'Indictments are only a part of the way to justice'
This morning, I spoke with a hero of Jan. 6: Harry Dunn. He and fellow members of the U.S. Capitol Police have been recognized for their heroism in facing off with violent insurrectionists looking to prevent the transition of power from Trump to Biden on that fateful day in 2021.
On a potential Trump indictment in Smith's 2020 election probe, Dunn told me:
Indictments are only a part of the way to justice. Real justice is what? A guilty verdict. With an indictment — just say the trial doesn’t happen ’til after the election, and say Trump wins. You know that s--- goes away if he wins, right? So if that happens, is that justice? "We got the indictment! We got justice!" No, we didn’t.
So it’s a mile marker on the way to justice — it’s what should happen when somebody breaks the law. You get investigated, you get indicted, you get convicted, you get sentenced. That’s f---ing justice.
Read more from my chat with Dunn below:
Trump says 'no indication of notice' during meeting with DOJ
Trump fired off a post on his Truth Social site moments ago, denying that his attorneys were told to expect an indictment during a meeting this morning with prosecutors.
"My attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning, explaining in detail that I did nothing wrong," he wrote, adding: "No indication of notice was given during the meeting."
NBC News reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter, that Trump’s attorneys have indeed been informed of a forthcoming indictment.
Don’t sleep on state charges as Trump’s 2024 campaign pushes on
If Trump wins the 2024 election, you can bet he will do everything in his power to dispose of his legal woes. It seems likely he would quash any Justice Department prosecution against him and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could attempt to pardon himself. But state charges, such as those out of New York and potentially Georgia, would be out of his reach.
On top of whatever policy and practical considerations would jeopardize federal charges against Trump if he were to win back the White House, he could also weaponize executive authority by attempting to pardon himself. Such a constitutional crisis would put us in uncharted territory as well.
We know that Trump is willing to use clemency brazenly. Indeed, just as his election could upend any federal charges he faces, the same is true for cases related to the Jan. 6 insurrection, including recent seditious conspiracy convictions. Those cases, including any federal charges Trump might face himself for Jan. 6, could go by the wayside with his election. (His GOP rival Ron DeSantis has likewise mused about pardoning Jan. 6 insurrectionists.)
Importantly, Trump lacks similar power over any state charges he faces....So if federal charges are brought against Trump, it would be a mistake to ignore any state charges.
Read more from Jordan’s post below:
All eyes will be on the witness list in next Trump indictment
It’s not a matter of “if” Trump is indicted again; it’s a matter of “when.”
What I’m most interested in, related to a likely indictment stemming from Smith’s 2020 election investigation, is who appears on the witness list for the government. Who has been given immunity? Who has been told, “We will not prosecute you but you’ve got to tell us honestly everything that happened. You can’t hide behind the Fifth Amendment”?
For this indictment in particular, the witnesses and which people may have been given immunity are going to tell the tale of how much difficulty Trump is actually going to have.
Read more below:
Grand jury had been expected to meet Tuesday
The federal grand jury hearing evidence in this case had been expected to meet on Tuesday, but did not end up gathering. It's unclear what prompted the apparent delay. Things certainly appear to be in full swing again today with members of the grand jury seen arriving at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., this morning.
Team Trump on high alert after meeting with Smith's office
It seems a third indictment for Trump is ticking ever closer. The former president's legal team met with Smith's office in Washington, D.C., this morning. Team Trump has been told to expect an indictment in the special counsel's 2020 election interference probe, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. (Trump denies that his team was told during its meeting this morning with the DOJ to expect an indictment.)
As Steve Benen wrote for MaddowBlog:
This comes just nine days after Trump publicly confirmed receiving a target letter from prosecutors, which, among other things, offered the suspect an opportunity to appear before the grand jury. (He did not take advantage of that opportunity.)
As of this writing, the former president has not reacted publicly to the notification his legal team received Thursday morning, though if recent history is any guide, the public can expect some all-caps harangues to be published to Trump’s social media platform fairly soon.
Read more from Steve below: