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Special counsel Jack Smith has alleged that Donald Trump’s close aides obstructed the Justice Department’s investigation into his mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, and these allegations will be tested in a hearing overseen by Judge Aileen Cannon. The charges against Trump’s co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, will be examined during the hearing, shaping how Trump’s defense will move forward in response to the obstruction charges. While Trump and his allies argue he is being selectively prosecuted, Smith and his supporters believe Trump’s alleged efforts to obstruct the probe into classified documents distinguish this case from investigations involving other former presidents.

Nauta and De Oliveira, Trump’s personal valet and Mar-a-Lago property manager respectively, are accused of conspiring to hide documents at the Florida estate after he left the White House and lying to the FBI about their alleged involvement. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges of obstruction and Trump has also pleaded not guilty to crimes related to allegedly mishandling classified government information. Nauta and De Oliveira have asked for the charges against them to be thrown out, arguing that Smith has not met the legal burden necessary to pursue the allegations. De Oliveira claims he was unaware that classified documents were in the boxes he helped move, while Nauta argues the criminal counts he faces are too vague.

In his interview with the FBI, Nauta stated that the transition out of the White House was chaotic and believed the boxes contained news clippings, hairspray, shampoo, and picture frames. He is charged with lying in this interview, but both co-defendants have requested a bill of particulars if Cannon rejects their efforts to dismiss the charges. This document would require prosecutors to provide detailed descriptions of the offenses they plan to prove at trial. Smith’s team has criticized these requests as a thinly veiled attempt to force the government to disclose its trial strategy.

Smith has defended the strength of the government’s case against De Oliveira and Nauta, insisting that a jury should decide the validity of their arguments. He argues that the case has detailed allegations of the criminal conduct they are accused of committing. Despite Trump’s claims of selective prosecution, the allegations of obstruction in this case are seen as unique due to the alleged efforts to hinder the investigation of classified documents in Trump’s possession. The hearing before Judge Cannon will be the first major test of the obstruction charges and will likely have significant implications for how Trump and his co-defendants proceed with their defense strategy.

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