Carlos De Oliveira, a former valet and handyman at Mar-a-Lago, Donald J. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, went from earning just over $10,000 a year to becoming Mar-a-Lago’s property manager. However, he is now facing serious legal charges along with Trump and one of his personal aides. Prosecutors claim that De Oliveira delivered a message to another employee at Mar-a-Lago, informing them that Trump wanted to delete potentially incriminating surveillance footage. He is also charged with lying to investigators. This situation is representative of Trump’s tendency to rely on his subordinates and expect their loyalty, often putting them in compromising positions.
De Oliveira and his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, are not only relying on Trump for their paychecks, but also for their legal bills. The payments are being handled by Save America PAC, one of Trump’s fundraising entities. Susie Wiles, one of Trump’s top political advisers, has been responsible for signing off on checks for lawyers representing White House and campaign officials who have been subpoenaed in the past two years. As the criminal investigations have progressed, the number of lawyers she is responsible for has grown.
The release of new details in an updated indictment reveals the extent to which low-level workers like De Oliveira have become entangled in the government’s efforts to hold Trump accountable for his actions. The indictment describes a plot to move boxes of documents in and out of a storage room at Mar-a-Lago to avoid returning them to the government, as well as an attempt to delete surveillance footage to cover the tracks of these movements. Nauta was reportedly central to the first part of the scheme, moving boxes at Trump’s direction.
Nauta’s path to Mar-a-Lago was also tumultuous. As a member of the Navy, he had worked as a valet for Trump in the White House, but was removed from his position after it was discovered that he had fraternized with colleagues. When naval officials were deciding how to handle the situation, an aide to Trump reached out to Nauta and offered him a job at Mar-a-Lago as the former president’s personal aide.
The investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents has involved more than 80 witnesses, many of whom are low- to mid-level employees of Mar-a-Lago or the Trump Organization. Yuscil Taveras, who works in information technology for the Trump Organization and oversees the surveillance cameras at Mar-a-Lago, is one of the witnesses. The indictment reveals how Nauta and De Oliveira tried to communicate with Taveras about deleting the server housing the surveillance footage. However, Taveras ultimately did not comply with their requests.
De Oliveira’s story reflects Trump’s pattern of relying on and expecting loyalty from his subordinates. Many of these individuals have become caught up in legal jeopardy as a result. While Trump and his co-defendants are being supported by Save America PAC in paying their legal fees, the creation of a legal-defense fund may help cover some of the costs for others involved in the case. The investigation into Trump’s actions is ongoing.