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Newly indicted Trump employee appears in Florida court, delays plea without a local lawyer

Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago property manager, appeared Monday in a Miami court after being named a third co-defendant alongside Trump.
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MIAMI — The Mar-a-Lago property manager charged in a new indictment alongside Donald Trump in the alleged mishandling of classified government documents after the former president left office was unable to enter a plea in court on Monday after being unable to secure a Florida-based lawyer.

Carlos De Oliveira, 56, wearing a navy suit and glasses, entered the Miami court just after 10 a.m., accompanied by his attorney John Irving.

It was the first sighting of De Oliveira, who stands about 5'8" with salt and pepper hair, since last week’s superseding indictment in the special counsel's documents case.

The judge read the four charges against De Oliveira and his rights before setting the signature bond at $100,000. Because De Oliveira has not secured local counsel to represent him in Florida, he was asked to return for his arraignment next month.

“We’re working on ascertaining local counsel,” Irving told NBC News ahead of the hearing.

The defense had asked for more time to secure counsel for De Oliveira before agreeing to return on Aug. 10 before a judge in Fort Pierce, about an hour north of where De Oliveira lives.

De Oliveira stood with Irving listening as the attorney spoke with the court marshal and as reporters filed out.

Prosecutors charge that De Oliveira attempted to delete surveillance footage at the former president’s Palm Beach club after the Justice Department sought to obtain it. 

But without a lawyer who can practice in Florida, Irving said he didn’t think the judge would proceed with De Oliveira’s arraignment. Irving said it would depend on the judge, raising the prospect of delays in the case.

De Oliveira has been summoned to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres, who presided over the arraignment of Walt Nauta, Trump’s personal aide who is also indicted in the classified documents case. Nauta’s not guilty plea was twice postponed because of difficulties in hiring local counsel.

Carlos De Oliveira, personal aide to former President Donald Trump, outside federal court in Miami on July 31, 2023.
Carlos De Oliveira, personal aide to former President Donald Trump, outside federal court in Miami on Monday.Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images

De Oliveira, a former maintenance worker who had climbed the ranks at Mar-a-Lago for more than a decade, was a little-known aide at the club before being named a co-conspirator alongside Trump and Nauta in special counsel Jack Smith’s updated indictment unsealed on Thursday. Asked about De Oliveira after the federal indictment was unsealed Thursday, one person close to Trump responded, “Who the hell is that?” 

Filed in the Southern District of Florida, the updated indictment lays out new charges against Trump, Nauta, and, now, De Oliveira, who are accused of conspiring to thwart federal investigators’ efforts to retrieve sensitive classified documents from Trump in his post-presidency. 

According to court documents, De Oliveira told another employee at Trump’s Palm Beach club that “the boss” wanted surveillance footage deleted, a conversation that took place after Trump’s attorneys received a subpoena to turn over the recordings.

Image: Mar-a-Lago
An aerial view of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.Steve Helber / AP file

De Oliveira is also accused of making false statements to prosecutors, including the assertion that he “never saw anything” when asked whether he was involved with moving boxes of classified materials.

Aides to Trump appear to voice concern about De Oliveira's loyalty to the former president. Speaking to another employee, Nauta “said words to the effect of, ‘someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good,’” according to the indictment. In a Signal message to Nauta and another aide to Trump, who is described as a representative for his political action committee, the employee responds that De Oliveira is “loyal.”

That same day, “Trump called De Oliveira and told De Oliveira that Trump would get De Oliveira an attorney,” the indictment says.