Donald Trump has categorically denied ordering the deletion of security footage at his Mar-a-Lago resort, following an allegation by special counsel Jack Smith that were included in three new charges against the former president.
Trump was charged with willful retention of national defense information and two charges related to claims that he allegedly ordered an employee, Carlos De Oliveira, to delete security tapes to prevent a grand jury from deleting them.
On Sunday, Trump denied the new charges, writing on Truth Social: "Mar-a-Lago security tapes were not deleted," adding "They were voluntarily handed over to the thugs, headed up by deranged Jack Smith. We did not even go to court to stop them from getting these tapes. I never told anybody to delete them. Prosecutorial fiction & misconduct! Election interference!"
In a second post, Trump said that the new claims are the "same as the Russia, Russia, Russia HOAX," adding "They knowingly accuse you of a fake crime, a crime that they actually make up, you fight these false charges hard, and they try and get you on ‘obstruction,’"
"We are dealing with sick and evil people!"
Trump attorney and spokeswoman, Alina Habba, also said that all of the requested surveillance tapes were handed over, and that Trump has fully cooperated. They say that the charges are politically motivated.
"When he has his turn in court, and when we get to file our papers, you will see that every single video, every single surveillance tape that was requested was turned over," said Habba. "If President Trump didn't want something turned over, I assure you, that is something that could have been done. But he never would act like that. He is the most ethical American I know.
"The new superseding indictment that came out, which they tried to get another headline for President Trump, was facts that said that President Trump did what? What was the obstruction of justice because no tapes were deleted. He turned them over; he cooperated as he always does. But they would like the American public to believe in these bogus indictments that there are some facts that say that President Trump was obstructing justice."
DOJ prosecutors allege that Dr Oliveira told another Mar-a-Lago employee that "the boss" wanted a server "deleted" on June 27, 2022 - around two months before FBI agents raided the Palm Beach resort, where they allegedly uncovered classified documents in a storage area.
Trump is slated to go to trial for the classified documents case next May, while Smith's office mulls further charges against the former president. Trump also faces potential criminal charges in Fulton County, Georgia, as well as New York, where Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg is trying to nail Trump over a "catch and kill" scheme to bury negative stories about him during the 2016 US election.
Polls show Trump leading the Republican candidates by a wide margin, solidifying his position as front-runner. The former president recently appeared at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he questioned participating in Republican presidential debates, given his competitors' low poll numbers.
"Am I going to stand up there with [candidates who are] zero, one, two, three percent, maybe four [in the polls] ... and have them ask me hostile questions?" Trump asked the crowd. "And if I don’t go to the debate ... they say that ratings are going to be really bad.
"But now put on your political cap, right? We have to save our country. We have to win. Should I get up there with 10 or 12 hostile people and a hostile network and be abused with terrible accusations?
"We'll see what happens."
BREAKING: Trump calls on Republican challengers to drop out and the millions be spent instead on a massive ballot harvesting operation— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 30, 2023
(Now with clip)pic.twitter.com/G2nc3YfdTB