Two aides to Donald Trump are set to enter pleas in federal court in Florida on Thursday in a case accusing the former US president of unlawfully taking classified documents with him after leaving office and misleading investigators who sought to retrieve them.
Walt Nauta, Trump's valet, and Carlos De Oliveira, a property manager at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort home in Palm Beach, are due to be arraigned at a hearing at 10 am before US Magistrate Judge Shaniek Mills Maynard on charges of obstruction of justice and false statements.
Special Counsel Jack Smith's team has accused Nauta and De Oliveira of conspiring with Trump to thwart a year-long investigation into his retention of the documents, which included some of the most closely held US secrets.
Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden, has pleaded not guilty to 40 counts of unauthorised retention of national defense information, obstruction of justice and false statements. He appeared at an arraignment in June.
Prosecutors have accused Trump of taking top-secret documents with him when he left the White House in 2021 and storing them haphazardly at Mar-a-Lago, including in a bathroom, shower and ballroom. Trump at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey also showed classified information to people who were not authorised to see it, according to the indictment.
Nauta moved boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago to hide them from Trump's lawyer and federal investigators, according to prosecutors. He and Oliveria are accused of trying to delete security camera footage and lying to the FBI.
The criminal case is one of three Trump faces as he campaigns to retake the White House in the November 2024 election, with a fourth potential indictment looming in Georgia. Trump has portrayed the charges as part of a political plot against him.
In the documents case, Nauta has pleaded not guilty but must be arraigned on additional counts filed in a July superseding indictment. Trump pleaded not guilty to the new charges in a court filing and will not appear in-person Thursday.
De Oliveira was added as a third defendant in the second indictment. He made his first court appearance on July 31 but did not enter a plea because he did not yet have a lawyer licensed to practice in Florida.
Trump also has pleaded not guilty in a case brought by Smith charging him with unlawfully trying to undo his 2020 election loss and another brought by Manhattan prosecutors charging him with falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star. Trump has denied wrongdoing in Georgia involving an investigation into his efforts to reverse his election loss in that state.