Mar-a-Lago manager pleads not guilty in Trump classified documents case

Property manager Carlos De Oliveira faces allegations that he tried to delete security footage sought by US investigators.

Carlos De Oliveira leaves a Florida courthouse
Carlos De Oliveira, second from right, leaves the Alto Lee Adams Sr US Courthouse following his arraignment hearing on Tuesday in Fort Pierce, Florida, the United States [Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo]

Carlos De Oliveira, a property manager for former United States President Donald Trump, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to delete security footage sought by federal investigators.

De Oliveira, who worked at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, appeared in a Fort Pierce courtroom on Tuesday alongside his lawyer, Donnie Murrell, who entered the plea on his behalf.

The property manager faces four criminal charges as part of a federal indictment into Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office.

De Oliveira gave only short answers in response to questions from Magistrate Judge Shaniek Mills Maynard and exited the court without speaking to reporters. Tuesday’s court appearance was De Oliveira’s third: His arraignment had been postponed twice after he failed to procure a Florida-based lawyer.

The trial in the classified documents case is expected to begin in May 2024.

De Oliveira’s arraignment comes as Trump faced a dizzying array of legal troubles. Trump was charged with a fourth criminal indictment on Monday in a separate case related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia.

The case involving De Oliveira is focused on allegations that Trump took classified documents out of the White House after his term as president and obstructed efforts by federal authorities to retrieve them.

Boxes of records were ultimately recovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Another episode detailed in the indictment describes Trump showing off classified documents at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Special counsel Jack Smith initially charged Trump and his valet Walt Nauta in June for their handling of the classified documents. But in July, Smith expanded the indictment, adding additional charges against both men and including De Oliveira among the defendants. All three have pleaded not guilty.

De Oliveira was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and lying to federal investigators. Prosecutors have alleged that he falsely said he had never seen the boxes of classified documents moved into Mar-a-Lago.

The updated indictment also outlined an incident in which Trump allegedly tried to have security footage deleted after investigators sent a subpoena demanding it in June 2022.

According to the indictment, De Oliveira asked an information technology worker at Mar-a-Lago how long the resort’s servers kept footage, claiming “the boss” wanted it deleted. When the employee expressed doubt he was allowed to erase the footage, De Oliveira allegedly repeated that “the boss” wanted it done.

The security footage from Mar-a-Lago could play a central role in the government’s case, as prosecutors have said that it shows Nauta moving boxes in and out of a storage room in an effort to hide the classified documents from federal authorities and Trump’s own lawyers.

Trump has consistently attacked the charges against him as a “witch hunt” orchestrated by his enemies.

“NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED BEFORE,” Trump said in a post on the social media site Truth Social on Monday. “OUR COUNTRY CAN NEVER LET THIS STAND!”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies