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Trump's superseding indictment paints a picture of a ridiculous Mar-a-Lago clown show
These guys are comically bad at criming.
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The newest Donald Trump indictment dropped last week, and above all it is ridiculous.
The tale of the two gormless henchmen creeping around the basement pointing flashlights at security cameras and the servers they'd been dispatched by Trump to wipe — all the while being captured by those very same cameras! — is almost too ludicrous to bear. Who knew there could be something more preposterous than that photo of the tacky bathroom with the boxes stacked in the shower?
The excitement started last Thursday morning with reports that Trump was about to be indicted in DC for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot. Instead, Special Counsel Jack Smith filed a superseding indictment in the Florida documents case, introducing us to a new defendant: Carlos De Oliveira, the Mar-a-Lago property manager. Like Walt Nauta, De Oliveira started as a valet before being promoted in 2022. And like Nauta, De Oliveira participated in the shell game with the former president’s “beautiful mind boxes” to avoid the prying eyes of the FBI, as well as Trump’s hapless lawyer, Evan Corcoran.
The original indictment laid out the scheme by which Nauta allegedly moved the boxes of swiped presidential records in and out of the storage locker near the Mar-a-Lago pool, allowing Trump to cull what he planned to keep before Corcoran could conduct a search on June 2, 2022, for the documents subpoenaed by the grand jury. Mindful that classified documents require certain protocols, the lawyer placed 38 records with classified markings in a Redweld folder sealed with clear duct tape supplied by Nauta, and then delicately ignored suggestions from his client that he “pluck” out anything too incriminating.
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The next day, Corcoran and attorney Christina Bobb, previously a reporter at One America News, met at Trump’s club with Jay Bratt, the head of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence Division. During the meeting, they handed Bratt a false declaration, prepared by Corcoran and signed by Bobb, representing that “a diligent search was conducted of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Florida” and “any and all documents responsive to the subpoena accompany this certification.” This scheme, which was (of course!) documented in a long voice memo Corcoran dictated the next day, forms the basis for counts 34 through 38 of the newest indictment.
But during that visit, Corcoran showed Bratt the storage locker, inadvertently revealing a security camera in the corridor outside it and setting off the chain of events which constitute the four new counts in the superseding indictment.
On June 22 of last year, prosecutors told Trump’s lawyers that they planned to subpoena the camera footage, at which point it dawned on Trump that the feds were going to figure out that he’d pulled a fast one on his own lawyer. The next day, Trump had a 24 minute phone call with Carlos De Oliveira.
Two days later, when the subpoena actually dropped, Trump and his minions sprung into action. Trump, who was then at his Bedminster club in New Jersey, summoned Nauta for a confab, after which the valet abruptly changed his plans to accompany his boss to Illinois, sending a flurry of conflicting text messages which might just as well have shouted, DON’T LOOK IN THE TRUNK OFFICER, BECAUSE THERE’S DEFINITELY NO BODY IN THERE.
NAUTA provided inconsistent explanations to colleagues for his sudden travel to Florida. At 7:14 p.m. on June 24, he texted one person that he would not be traveling with TRUMP the next day because he had a family emergency and used "shushing" emojis; at 9:48 p.m. that night, he texted a Secret Service agent that he had to check on a family member in Florida; and after he arrived in Florida on June 25, he texted the same Secret Service agent that he was in Florida working.
De Oliveira was no more subtle, cautioning a valet identified as “Trump Employee 5” “not to tell anyone that Nauta was coming down because Nauta wanted the trip to remain secret.” De Oliveira added that Nauta hoped to speak to the Mar-a-Lago IT guy, identified by the New York Times as Yuscil Taveras, “to see how long camera footage was stored.”
No bodies here either, officer!
It’s clear from the indictment that Trump’s club is equipped with an extensive network of security cameras. That’s how we know that Nauta met up with De Oliveira after landing in Florida on June 25, and at 5:46 p.m. the pair “went to the security guard booth where surveillance video is displayed on monitors, walked with a flashlight through the tunnel where the Storage Room was located, and observed and pointed out surveillance cameras.”
Were they dressed like Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in the Home Alone movies? Did they take flashlights because they hoped somehow to defeat the motion-activated camera sensors referred to in the evidentiary pleadings? We may never know. But we do know that at 9:48 a.m. on June 27, De Oliveira approached the IT office and pulled Taveras aside for a private chat. A minute later, they were in an "audio closet" near the White and Gold Ballroom, where Trump’s stolen boxes had been stacked before Nauta shifted them to the storage locker.
After delivering a verbal shushing emoji, De Oliveira allegedly told Taveras that Trump wanted the subpoenaed security camera footage destroyed:
DE OLIVEIRA told Trump Employee 4 that their conversation should remain between the two of them.
DE OLIVEIRA asked Trump Employee 4 how many days the server retained footage. Trump Employee 4 responded that he believed it was approximately 45 days.
DE OLIVEIRA told Trump Employee 4 that "the boss" wanted the server deleted. Trump Employee 4 responded that he would not know how to do that, and that he did not believe that he would have the rights to do that. Trump Employee 4 told DE OLIVEIRA that DE OLIVEIRA would have to reach out to another employee who was a supervisor of security for TRUMP's business organization. DE OLIVEIRA then insisted to TRUMP Employee 4 that "the boss" wanted the server deleted and asked, "what are we going to do?"
After being rebuffed by Taveras, De Oliveira and Nauta regrouped. At 1:31, De Oliveira dove through the bushes to meet Nauta on an adjacent property — presumably one without cameras — snuck back through the brambles for another visit to the IT office, and then, like a Homer Simpson gif come to life, crossed back through the bushes to report to Nauta. Two hours later, De Oliveira spoke to Trump on the phone again.
The conspiracy here was not subtle, and, indeed, was barely concealed at all. As if to reinforce that they were too stupid to be doing crimes, the group memorialized their code of omertà after Mar-a-Lago was raided:
Just over two weeks after the FBI discovered classified documents in the Storage Room and TRUMP's office, on August 26, 2022, NAUTA called Trump Employee 5 and said words to the effect of, "someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good." In response, Trump Employee 5 told NAUTA that DE OLIVEIRA was loyal and that DE OLIVEIRA would not do anything to affect his relationship with TRUMP. That same day, at NAUTA's request, Trump Employee 5 confirmed in a Signal chat group with NAUTA and the PAC Representative that DE OLIVEIRA was loyal. That same day, TRUMP called DE OLIVEIRA and told DE OLIVEIRA that TRUMP would get DE OLIVEIRA an attorney.
The “PAC representative” is reportedly Susie Wiles, the legendary Florida political operative who got crosswise with Gov. Ron DeSantis and is now allied with Trump. She was the one present at his Bedminster club in August or September of 2021 when he pointed to a map of a foreign country and cautioned her not to get too close because it was classified. According to the Washington Post, Wiles is now in charge of greenlighting payments from Trump’s Save America PAC to the small group of lawyers who represent MAGAworld figures.
Wiles was not present on July 21, 2021, when Trump waved around a Defense Department plan to invade Iran as a rebuttal to a New Yorker piece describing efforts by the Chairman on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to stop Trump from starting a war during the transition as part of his desperate attempt to stay in power.
“This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information,” he burbled on audio obtained by CNN, adding, “As president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, but this is still a secret.”
The audience for this particular outburst, which shows up in the recent indictment as a new charge (#32) for presentation concerning military activity in a foreign country, included Mark Meadows’s biographers, Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington, and his assistant Margo Martin, who records his interviews as a matter of course since Trump doesn’t trust the press. Which was mighty convenient for Jack Smith!
And if you’re having trouble keeping the dramatis personae here straight, it’s because the whole thing is a Keystone Cops comedy where the protagonist is a cartoon villain who swipes oversized love notes from murderous despots and stashes military secrets in his pool locker.
Normal people don’t pratfall into violating the Espionage Act because they think that national defense documents are cool keepsakes to have around. But normal people also don’t spend 70 years cultivating a reputation as serial philanderers, only to hold themselves out as avatars of Christian values. So perhaps it was inevitable that we’d wind up here, with the former president facing a decade in jail for crimes so mind-numbingly stupid, and yet so extensively documented.
From the boxes in the bathroom, to the flashlights in the tunnel. From the lawyer fresh off a stint at OAN, to the lawyer dictating a long memo explaining that his client instructed him to defy a grand jury subpoena. From Trump recording himself disseminating national defense information, to his goons getting caught on camera trying to destroy the security footage.
It’s all so offensively dumb!
Shushing emojis? Seriously?
If the writers weren't already on strike, they'd walk out in protest. Next we'll find out that the security camera footage was destroyed in a conveniently timed flood.
That’s it for today
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