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Mar-a-Lago IT worker was told he won't face charges in special counsel probe

Washington — The Mar-a-Lago IT employee who, according to a federal court filing, implicated former President Donald Trump and two of his aides in an alleged pressure campaign to delete security camera footage at the Florida resort was advised by special counsel Jack Smith's team that he would not face perjury charges after he amended his testimony, a source familiar with the investigation told CBS News. 

Yuscil Taveras was assured by federal prosecutors in recent weeks that he was no longer the target of a criminal probe into whether he had lied in his grand jury testimony and would not be charged for allegedly lying to investigators by telling them that he had no knowledge of efforts to delete the footage that was of interest to Smith's team, the source said. 

Taveras' change in testimony came after Smith sent Taveras a target letter indicating the special counsel was investigating whether he had lied to a grand jury. According to court documents, the reversal also followed inquiries about whether Taveras' attorney at the time had a conflict of interest because he also represented a Trump aide and co-defendant in the case, Walt Nauta.

Taveras, identified in court filings as "Trump Employee 4," first denied having any conversations with Trump, Nauta or Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira about the footage in March, Smith's team alleged in a court filing Tuesday. But after receiving a target letter and switching lawyers, the documents said, Taveras "retracted his prior false testimony and provided information that implicated Nauta, De Oliveira and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage, as set forth in the superseding indictment." 

Taveras' current attorney, a public defender in Washington, D.C., declined to comment. 

In July, Trump, Nauta and De Oliveira were charged in a superseding indictment in Florida that alleged they had tried to pressure Taveras to delete the footage that prosecutors sought. Federal investigators were looking into the movement of boxes that allegedly contained sensitive government records within Mar-a-Lago. Charging documents do not suggest the security footage was actually erased, and they also clarify that Taveras did not acquiesce to the entreaties. 

Trump and the two aides — Nauta and De Oliveira — pleaded not guilty, and Trump has slammed the prosecution as politically motivated. 

The former president and his close aide, Nauta, were first charged in June with numerous counts, including Trump's alleged retention of national defense information and an alleged scheme in which the pair is accused of working to obstruct the federal probe. Trump and Nauta pleaded not guilty to those charges earlier this year. 

Prosecutors said in a federal court filing Tuesday that Taveras is now likely to be called as a government witness at trial, which is currently set for May 2024. 

Taveras, Smith's team wrote, "will very likely face cross-examination about his prior inconsistent statements in his grand jury testimony … which he disavowed immediately after obtaining new counsel." 

Some of the details of Taveras' testimony confirmed in court documents were first reported by ABC News.

The details of Taveras' legal vulnerabilities emerged as prosecutors asked Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the classified documents case in Florida, to inquire into potential conflicts involving Taveras' former attorney, Stanley Woodward, because Woodward represents Nauta in the same case. 

Woodward previously declined to comment on the inquiry, but said in court filings that he did not oppose a sealed examination of his past legal representation and pushed Cannon to bar prosecutors from calling Taveras as a witness. The attorney claimed Smiths' team improperly used a Washington, D.C., grand jury to obtain Taveras' testimony about the security camera footage while the case was already being litigated in Florida. 

The special counsel pushed back on that assertion in Tuesday's filing, writing that it was "appropriate" to continue using a grand jury in the nation's capital to investigate Taveras' false statements because the alleged perjury at the center of the probe occurred in Washington. Prosecutors also revealed in court documents the grand jury's term expired in August. 

Cannon has yet to rule on the matter. 

Before ending its work, the federal grand jury in Washington twice subpoenaed additional security camera footage from Mar-a-Lago in June and July, according to the special counsel's filing, "that related directly to De Oliveira's solicitation of Trump Employee 4 to delete security footage, as well as the false denials of the same by both witnesses." 

A spokesperson for Smith declined to comment. 

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