MIAMI (AP) — An employee of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Carlos De Oliveira, is expected to make his first court appearance Monday on charges accusing him of scheming with the former president to hide security footage from investigators probing Trump’s hoarding of classified documents.
De Oliveira, Mar-a-Lago’s property manager, was added last week to the indictment with Trump and the former president’s valet, Walt Nauta, in the federal case alleging a plot to illegally keep top-secret records at Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate and thwart government efforts to retrieve them.
De Oliveira faces charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice and lying to investigators. He’s scheduled to appear before a magistrate judge in Miami nearly two months after Trump pleaded not guilty in the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith.
The developments in the classified documents case come as Trump braces for possible charges in another federal investigation into his efforts to cling to power after he lost the 2020 election. Trump, the early front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, has received a letter from Smith indicating that he is a target of that investigation, and Trump’s lawyers met with Smith’s team last week.
An attorney for De Oliveira declined last week to comment on the allegations. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said the Mar-a-Lago security tapes were voluntarily handed over to investigators. Trump posted on his Truth Social platform last week that he was told the tapes were not “deleted in any way, shape or form.”
Prosecutors have not alleged that security footage was actually deleted or kept from investigators.
Nauta has also pleaded not guilty. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon had previously scheduled the trial of Trump and Nauta to begin in May, and it’s unclear whether the addition of De Oliveira to the case may impact the case’s timeline.
The latest indictment, unsealed on Thursday, alleges that Trump tried to have security footage deleted after investigators visited in June 2022 to collect classified documents Trump took with him after he left the White House.
Trump was already facing dozens of felony counts — including willful retention of notional defense information — stemming from allegations that he mishandled government secrets that as commander-in-chief he was entrusted to protect. Experts have said the new allegations bolster the special counsel’s case and deepen the former president’s legal jeopardy.
Video from Mar-a-Lago would ultimately become vital to the government’s case because, prosecutors said, it shows Nauta moving boxes in and out of a storage room — an act alleged to have been done at Trump’s direction and in effort to hide records not only only from investigators but Trump’s own lawyers.
Days after the Justice Department sent a subpoena for video footage at Mar-a-Lago to the Trump Organization in June 2022, prosecutors say De Oliveira asked a information technology staffer how long the server retained footage and told the employee “the boss” wanted it deleted. When the employee said he didn’t believe he was able to do that, De Oliveira insisted the “boss” wanted it done, asking, “What are we going to do?”
Shortly after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago and found classified records in the storage room and Trump’s office, prosecutors say Nauta called a Trump employee and said words to the effect of, “someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good.” The indictment says the employee responded that De Oliveira was loyal and wouldn’t do anything to affect his relationship with Trump. That same day, the indictment alleges, Trump called De Oliveira directly to say that he would get De Oliveira an attorney.
Prosecutors allege that De Oliveira later lied in interviews with investigators, falsely claiming that he hadn’t even seen boxes moved into Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House.
(Copyright (c) 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)