Trump aide appears in court charged with obstruction in classified documents case

Trump aide appears in court charged with obstruction in classified documents case

Trump aide appears in court charged with obstruction in classified documents case By Reuters

Breaking News



Published Jul 31, 2023 06:03AM ET
Updated Jul 31, 2023 02:26PM ET

By Jack Queen

MIAMI (Reuters) -An aide to former U.S. President Donald Trump appeared in Miami federal court on Monday to face charges he tried to help the former president hide secret documents taken upon leaving office.

Carlos De Oliveira, the property manager of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, did not enter a plea as he has yet to obtain local counsel.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres scheduled his arraignment for Aug. 10 and ordered De Oliveira not to talk to other defendants about the case. He was released on a $100,000 bond.

De Oliveira’s lawyer, John Irving, told reporters after the hearing that it was “unfortunate” the Justice Department had charged his client and it was time for prosecutors to “put their money where their mouth is.”

De Oliveira is accused of trying to delete security camera footage and lying to investigators. He is charged with four counts, including obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors first charged Trump and his aide Walt Nauta in the case in June, alleging Trump haphazardly stored hundreds of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home and enlisted staff to hide them from investigators.

Trump, front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts. He said during a radio interview on Friday that he had turned over all security camera tapes the government had asked for.

Nauta has also pleaded not guilty.

A superseding indictment unveiled on Thursday added charges against Trump and Nauta along with De Oliveira, in a sign the case is widening. It emerges as charges loom in a separate investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election.

Trump has yet to enter a plea on the latest charges.

Investigators raided Trump’s resort in August 2022 and found more than 300 secret documents in a trove of roughly 11,000 government papers.

According to Thursday’s indictment, De Oliveira, 56, in June 2022 told another worker at the resort where Trump lives that “the boss” wanted security videos of the property in Florida deleted after the Justice Department subpoenaed them, according to Thursday’s indictment.

De Oliveira and Nauta also moved boxes of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago to conceal them from the FBI and Trump’s lawyers, the indictment said.

Prosecutors said De Oliveira lied to the FBI during a voluntary interview by falsely claiming he had no involvement in moving boxes.

“Never saw nothing,” De Oliveira told the agents, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege Trump took the documents illegally when he left office in January 2021 and stored them in unsecured locations, including a ballroom, bathroom and shower. He also showed the papers – which included top-secret information about the U.S. nuclear program and military vulnerabilities – to people who were not authorized to see them, according to the initial indictment.

Trump’s lawyers met with U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith last week about the election interference probe. It is not uncommon for defense attorneys to meet with federal prosecutors before an indictment.

Trump in April became the first sitting or former U.S. president to face criminal charges when a grand jury called by Manhattan’s Democratic district attorney indicted him for allegedly falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star.

Trump has pleaded not guilty, saying the cases against him are part of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

Separately, a grand jury in Georgia is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in that state.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to announce whether she will charge anyone in the probe in August.

Media over the weekend reported Trump’s political action committee is expected to report on Monday that it has spent about $40 million in legal fees in the first half of 2023 to defend Trump and his advisers.

Trump aide appears in court charged with obstruction in classified documents case

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