One of the first rules prosecutors follow when pursuing people suspected of committing a crime is this one: there are no coincidences. That very well may be why prosecutors from the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith have empaneled a new grand jury in Florida to take testimony from Florida residents about the circumstances surrounding Donald Trump’s theft of classified documents and his attempts to obstruct the Department of Justice’s investigation.
The FBI got a subpoena for Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage even before they obtained the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago on August 8 of last year. They were able to obtain that warrant, sources told the New York Times, because some of the surveillance footage they looked at showed document boxes being moved around Mar-a-Lago from place to place after the DOJ served a subpoena on May 11 for any and all classified documents Trump had at Mar-a-Lago.
When Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran turned over just 38 classified documents to DOJ attorney Jay Bratt on June 3, FBI investigators became curious about why all those boxes had been moved around within Mar-a-Lago, especially the 60-some boxes that had been moved into a storage room on June 2, the day before Bratt and a team of FBI agents showed up at Mar-a-Lago to meet with Corcoran. At that time, Corcoran showed Bratt the storage room containing the 60 boxes but told him he could not open or examine them.
Then came the FBI search on August 8 that turned up more than 100 additional classified documents, plus thousands more documents and other materials that belonged to the government under the Presidential Records Act.
After the search, the Department of Justice obtained yet another subpoena for more surveillance footage of Mar-a-Lago, according to a recent story by CNN. Additionally, the DOJ sent a demand in October to the Trump Organization that it preserve all surveillance footage taken at Mar-a-Lago. CNN reported that Special Counsel Jack Smith has taken grand jury testimony from more than a dozen people connected to Mar-a-Lago, from Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran to resort staff, to senior aides to Trump who worked at the resort for him.
Now lawyers for Special Counsel Smith are asking questions of witnesses about the handling not only of the classified documents, but of the surveillance footage, trying to determine if anyone had been given orders to conceal or alter the footage that might have shown attempts to conceal boxes of classified documents from FBI agents that searched the place in August of last year.
One of those questioned was Carlos Deoliveira, described as a “maintenance worker” at Mar-a-Lago who was seen on surveillance footage helping Trump’s “valet,” Walt Nauta, move the 60 boxes into the storage room on the day before the DOJ visit to Mar-a-Lago on June 3 of last year.
It turns out that Deoliveira had another job at Mar-a-Lago: pool boy. According to a report by CNN yesterday, Deoliveira drained the Mar-a-Lago pool in October of last year around the time that the DOJ ordered the Trump Organization to retain any and all surveillance footage they had from Mar-a-Lago. How’s this for a coincidence? The process of draining the pool also flooded the room where the servers containing surveillance footage of Mar-a-Lago were kept.
Lawyers working for Special Counsel Smith have questioned Deoliveira about the circumstances surrounding his draining of the pool and flooding of the surveillance server room. They also seized his cell phone when they learned that Deoliveira had called the Mar-a-Lago IT worker in charge of the surveillance system, Yuscil Taveras. Deoliveira called Taveras after the DOJ had issued the subpoena for all surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago, and after Deoliveira had helped Nauta move the 60 boxes on the day before the DOJ visit in June.
Then in October, the DOJ sent its demand to the Trump Organization to preserve all of the Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage, and shortly after that, the surveillance server room was flooded by Mr. Deoliveira’s draining of the pool. “Investigators have asked questions indicating they are trying to determine if workers at Mar-a-Lago received specific direction from above, particularly from Trump himself, to obstruct the investigation,” CNN reported. The New York Times recently reported that Taveras appeared before the Special Prosecutor’s grand jury two weeks ago and was asked questions about his contacts and text messages with both Nauta and Deoliveira. Investigators had already discovered from Nauta’s cell phone that he had send text messages to longtime Trump Organization security executive Matthew Calamari Sr.
Here’s another coincidence that has to be of great interest to Special Prosecutor Jack Smith: all three of the Mar-a-Lago workers—Nauta, Deoliveira, and Taveras, are represented by lawyers being paid for by Donald Trump. So are Matthew Calamari Sr. and Matthew Calamari Jr, the current head of security at Mar-a-Lago.
How the drainage of a pool that is located at least 50 feet away from the nearest Mar-a-Lago building ended up flooding a room within that building containing the surveillance equipment for Mar-a-Lago is known only to the pool boy who did the draining. And now a grand jury is sitting in Florida reportedly taking testimony from Florida residents who may have been involved with the classified documents that Trump stole from the government and kept in an insecure room at his resort in Palm Beach.
Coincidences pile upon coincidences, eh? Watch this space for more coincidence alerts.
Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV.
Lucian K. Truscott IV
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better.