Trump co-defendant makes initial US court appearance in classified docs case

Trump co-defendant makes initial US court appearance in classified docs case

Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira does not enter plea, released on $100,000 bond

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - Carlos De Oliveira, one of the men charged alongside ex-President Donald Trump in connection with the retention of classified documents, made his initial court appearance Monday.

De Oliveira, a property manager at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, was charged last week in a fresh indictment brought by federal prosecutors that also charged Trump with three new counts alleging efforts to delete surveillance footage in a bid to stymy special counsel Jack Smith's investigation.

De Oliveira is charged with moving boxes of classified government documents and seeking to have security camera footage deleted from a server at Trump's behest in what prosecutors allege was an effort to conceal evidence from investigators.

He has been charged with two counts of corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing a document, record or other object, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to investigators.

During the hearing, De Oliveira did not enter a plea and was released on $100,000 bond ahead of trial. He is slated to be arraigned on Aug. 10.

Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, had previously been charged with multiple counts, including obstruction of justice.

After the new indictment was filed, Trump took to his Truth Social website to say his team voluntarily handed over the security footage, which, he said, was not "deleted in any way, shape, or form."

Prosecutors have not alleged that the footage was altered.

It is not clear if the May 20, 2024 trial date set by US District Judge Aileen Cannon two weeks ago is going to be affected by the new indictment. The trial is slated to take place at the tail-end of the Republican primary nominating season as the party selects a challenger to presumed Democratic nominee President Joe Biden.

Trump faces a 37-count indictment related to his alleged efforts to keep classified documents in his personal possession after he left the White House in 2021, and later efforts to thwart federal investigators from recovering them.

The former president has pleaded not guilty.

The investigation kicked off after the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of government files, including 184 classified documents, from Trump's Mar-a-Lagoestate in January 2022. It subsequently handed them over to the FBI as it referred the matter to the bureau.

Additional records were recovered when FBI agents executed a grand jury subpoena in May 2022. But investigators believed additional documents were likely still at Mar-a-Lago, prompting the execution of a court-approved search warrant in August that led to 11 additional sets of documents being seized.

Trump is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and concealing documents from federal investigators, among other charges.

Trump has maintained that the case is politically-motivated, a charge denied by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was tapped to independently carry out the federal probe by US Attorney General Merrick Garland in November.

Smith has maintained the integrity of the case brought after a grand jury decided to indict the ex-commander-in-chief. A trial could be completed in as few as three weeks, Smith has said.

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