Judge rejects efforts by Trump’s co-defendants to get obstruction charges tossed in classified documents case

Special counsel Jack Smith’s obstruction case in the classified documents prosecution survived an early test, with a federal judge on Thursday denying several bids by Donald Trump’s co-defendants to dismiss charges against them.

Judge Aileen Cannon rejected efforts by Trump’s co-defendants Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira to toss obstruction charges they faced. Nauta works as Trump’s personal valet, and De Oliveira has worked as property manager at Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago estate.

Cannon’s 8-page ruling means that those charges will continue to march toward trial.

The Florida judge still has yet to decide several motions by Trump to toss charges against him in connection with allegedly mishandling classified documents and attempting to thwart the Justice Department’s investigation.

All three men have pleaded not guilty.

Attorneys for De Oliveira argued that the obstruction charges he faced should be dismissed because he was not aware of the grand jury subpoenas issued for classified documents kept at Mar-a-Lago when he allegedly moved boxes around the resort. They also said that the false statements charge against him should be tossed because the FBI interview of him was not clear enough and agents’ questions were not relevant to their investigation.

Cannon disagreed, saying those arguments were better suited to go before a trial jury. The indictment “provides sufficient details” about the allegations against De Oliveira to allow the case to continue, she wrote, and “whatever deficiencies may exist with respect to the manner of questioning during the interview (and any confusion or ambiguity stemming therefrom) is a matter for trial.”

As for Nauta, Cannon wrote that she was not persuaded by his claims that the charges he faces are legally flawed.

Nauta is accused of assisting the former president in his alleged efforts to hide boxes of classified documents from a Trump attorney who was collecting them for a grand jury subpoena and of making false statements to investigators probing the documents’ whereabouts. His attorneys argued that ongoing disagreements among judges over the meaning of the word “corruptly” in the obstruction statute made the charges against him unconstitutionally vague.

Cannon said that Nauta’s arguments were “worthy of serious consideration, but it does not lead this Court to conclude that dismissal of the obstruction counts is warranted.”

The judge also denied Nauta’s and De Oliveira’s requests to get more information from prosecutors about the allegations against them.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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