An employee of former President Donald Trump appeared in a Miami courtroom on July 31, facing accusations that he conspired to obstruct justice and lied to investigators probing Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents.
Carlos De Oliveira, the 56-year-old property manager at Mr. Trump’s Florida estate, became the third defendant in the case last week. A Florida grand jury voted to update the original indictment against Mr. Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, who both pleaded not guilty to the original charges in June.
Because Mr. De Oliveira, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, had not yet obtained a Florida-based lawyer to represent him on the charges that were lodged five days ago, he was rescheduled to enter a plea to the charges on Aug. 10.
In court on Monday, he agreed to turn over his passport and signed an agreement that he would pay $100,000 if he fails to appear for the plea hearing in Fort Pierce, Florida. Under conditions of his release under that personal bond, Mr. Oliveira is forbidden from communicating with “fact witnesses” about the case except through attorneys. He also must obtain court permission before traveling outside of southern Florida.
Chief Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres presided over the hearing and read the charges to Mr. De Oliveira. Mr. Torres was the same judge who accepted a not-guilty plea from Mr. Nauta last month.
Attorney John Irving, who is based in Washington, accompanied Mr. De Oliveira to court Monday. After the hearing, Mr. Irving told reporters that he was looking forward to seeing what evidence the government has against his client. He wouldn’t say whether Mr. De Oliveira has been asked to testify against the former president.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Nauta will be allowed to enter a written plea on charges that were added to the revised indictment last week, court records say.
The former president now faces a total of 40 federal charges related to the documents that he possessed at his home at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, in addition to 34 state charges in a New York “hush-money” case that dates to 2017.
Workers Targeted to ‘Get Trump’
Mr. Trump is standing up for Mr. Nauta and Mr. Oliveira, saying that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is bent on destroying the lives of “two fine people” who have been his loyal longtime employees.
“They are being persecuted with one goal, to ‘get Trump,'” the former president wrote in a Truth Social post on July 28, a day after the superseding indictment was issued against all three defendants.
Most of the new charges revolve around alleged attempts to delete security camera footage from Mar-a-Lago. The footage shows boxes of records being moved.
The indictment quotes Mr. De Oliveira telling a colleague that the “boss” wanted a server hosting the footage to be deleted.
In a series of Truth Social posts, Mr. Trump denied the accusations, saying the tapes were not deleted, were voluntarily handed over to investigators, and that he “never told anybody to delete them.” Mr. Trump called the allegations “prosecutorial fiction and misconduct” and “election interference,” since he is the leading Republican candidate to oppose Democrat President Joe Biden in the 2024 election.
No News About Biden’s Records
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is asking whether Mr. Biden will face any charges for possessing classified records that date to his service as a U.S. senator and as vice president. Mr. Trump points out that both of those positions lack the authority to declassify records, an action left to the sole discretion of the president, a court ruling has held.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly alleged that Mr. Biden possessed far more documents than Mr. Trump did.
Although the DOJ has released photographs depicting dozens of boxes of documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, court records show a much smaller quantity of records is at issue in the case. Mr. Trump turned over 235 pages of documents with classified markings between January and June 2022. Then the FBI found 102 more such documents during its raid of Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.
Special Counsel Robert Hur was appointed to investigate Mr. Biden’s possession of classified records. Those records have been found in various places, but the status of that investigation has remained under wraps.
In contrast, the indictment of Mr. Trump in the New York “hush money” case was leaked to news outlets in March. Likewise, reports have surfaced about the activities of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who has been investigating Mr. Trump since November.
Charges Pile Up Against Trump
Mr. Smith’s team has probed not only the classified-documents case but also Mr. Trump’s conduct relating to his challenge of the 2020 election results, which culminated in a protest that turned violent at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In the documents case, Mr. Trump now faces 32 counts of willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act, and eight counts related to alleged efforts to obstruct the investigation.
The documents case trial is set for May 20, 2024. In the new court filings, the DOJ said it intends to keep that date in spite of the additional charges and a third defendant further complicating the case.
Mr. Trump confirmed on July 27 that his lawyers met with Mr. Smith’s office to contest the impending Jan. 6 indictment, but said there was “no indication of notice” of an indictment being brought. Previously, Mr. Trump revealed that he had received a “target letter” from Mr. Smith’s office on July 16, a move signaling an indictment was imminent.
A Fulton County, Georgia, investigation into Mr. Trump’s disputing of the state’s election results is also expected to produce criminal charges against him.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.