Mar-a-Lago property manager back in court today in Trump classified papers case

Carlos De Oliveira, property manager at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, is scheduled to appear today before a federal magistrate in Fort Pierce to enter a plea in the government’s classified document case against the former president.

De Oliveira, 56, made a return appearance to be arraigned in the case because arrangements had not been completed in time for a local lawyer to represent him who is authorized to practice in the federal court system’s Southern District of Florida.

Last Thursday, lawyers for Trump, who waived his court appearance, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a superseding indictment returned by a grand jury in late July. Co-defendant Waltine Nauta also pleaded not guilty.

De Oliveira’s local attorney is Larry Donald Murrell Jr. of West Palm Beach, a veteran criminal defense lawyer based in West Palm Beach. He is expected to work at the trial alongside John Irving of Washington, D.C., who has been the only lawyer representing De Oliveria thus far.

Among the first tasks facing Murrell is to obtain a security clearance from the Justice Department’s Litigation Security Group so he’ll have the authority to consult with his client on the classified documents in the case. An order issued last week by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon gave Murrell and other newly arrived defense lawyers until Aug.  23 to acquire a clearance.

Arraignments complete

The De Oliveira plea, to be made in front of magistrate Shaniek Mills Maynard, is the last to be entered by the case’s three defendants.

He became a co-defendant when special counsel Jack Smith expanded the documents case against Trump through the superseding indictment. It alleges the former president and his two employees attempted to delete security footage at Mar-a-Lago that a grand jury had sought while investigating Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified records.

Trump, 77, pleaded not guilty in Miami to the charges in the original 37-count indictment in June. Nauta, 40, pleaded not guilty to the initial charges against him in July.

Judge Cannon has set a trial date for May 20, 2024.

Unrelated indictments

The case being tried in South Florida is one of four criminal cases to be brought against the former president, and the second this month to allege that he tried to subvert the results of the 2020 election

On Monday, a sweeping indictment handed up  in Georgia accused Trump and 18 allies of scheming to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

Two weeks earlier, Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump in a Washington, D.C., indictment in a vast conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.

The fourth criminal case, and the first to be filed, came in March when he was indicted on state charges related to payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to allegedly bury allegations of extramarital sexual encounters.

Prosecution redux: No document talks at Mar-a-Lago

Prosecutors, meanwhile, filed another round of papers with the judge late Monday in the Mar-A-Lago documents case that again rejects Trump’s bid to discuss classified documents with his lawyers at the Mar-a-Lago estate.

The filing is part of a government attempt to install a protective order under the Classified Information Procedures act that would govern how sensitive papers in question would be handled at trial.

The government insisted as it has previously that discussions “of classified information between Trump and his attorneys take place in a sensitive compartmented information facility (“SCIF”).”

“On the other hand,” prosecutors reiterated in their Monday filing, Trump “seeks special treatment that no other criminal defendant would receive and that is unsupported by law or precedent.”

In a filing last Wednesday, noted prosecutor Jay Bratt, Trump’s lawyers asked the court “to insert language in the protective order ‘to approve reestablishment of a secure facility’ at an unidentified location where Trump was permitted to review classified information during his presidency.”

“In making this request for the creation of a secure location for his personal use, Trump continues to seek special treatment that no other criminal defendant would receive,” Bratt said. “In essence, he is asking to be the only defendant ever in a case involving classified information (at least to the Government’s knowledge) who would be able to discuss classified information in a private residence.

“And of course, The Mar-a-Lago Club is even less suited than most residences to host a secure location, because it is a social club,” Bratt added. “In addition to Trump’s residence and office, The Mar-a-Lago Club contains more than 25 guest rooms, two ballrooms, a spa, a gift store, exercise facilities, office space, and an outdoor pool and patio.”

“As of January 2021, The Mar-a-Lago Club had hundreds of members and was staffed by more than 150 full-time, part-time, and temporary employees,” the prosecutor added.

“The Mar-a-Lago Club hosted more than 50 social events, including weddings, movie premieres, and fundraisers that together drew tens of thousands of guests,” the filing says. “Trump also provides no specifics in either his response or the attached declaration about what steps (including cost or time) would be required to create a secure space at his proposed location.”

There are other ways for the defense lawyers to discuss classified documents with their client, Bratt noted.

One of them: a court security officer “may authorize the defense to discuss classified information at an in camera hearing, for example.”

Or, Trump and the lawyers could discuss the papers at secured facilities in the Southern District of Florida that are approved by the security officer.

In the same filing, the government lawyers also reiterated their position that Nauta should have limited access to classified materials. They want the judge to rule that only his lawyers can have wide access to the documents. If Nauta is to see any of the materials, prosecutors said, access should be provided on a case-by-case basis.

Judge Cannon, who rejected the government’s original protective order, has yet to rule on its latest request.

This is a developing story, so check back for updates. Click here to have breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

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