Trump Changed the Lock in His Residence before Changing the Lock on the Storage Room

In another motion for a Garcia hearing in the Trump stolen documents case, DOJ revealed that Trump changed a lock on a storage closet in his own residence on June 2, before changing the lock on the storage closet where his classified documents had been stored for months.

At issue is one of three clients of Carlos De Oliveira’s attorney, John Irving, that DOJ says may testify at trial.

Recall that Stan Woodward represents seven clients interviewed in this matter, and did represent Yuscil Taveras before he got a new lawyer and cooperated against Woodward client Walt Nauta. DOJ tried to describe those conflicts under seal, which Judge Aileen Cannon refused, which may be why DOJ has laid out these conflicts in an unsealed court filing.

The three witnesses whom Irving represents include a Trump Employee 3 — the person who told Nauta that Trump wanted to see him before Nauta flew to Mar-a-Lago and allegedly tried to delete surveillance video, a former Trump assistant (possibly Chamberlain Harris?) who knew of movements of boxes to Mar-a-Lago, and the head maintenance worker at MAL whom De Oliveira replaced, referred to as Witness 1 in the filing.

The most damning testimony the Witness 1 provided debunked the excuse De Oliveira made to explain why he was taking pictures of surveillance cameras at MAL.

Witness 1 was a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago who served as head of maintenance before De Oliveira took over that position in January 2022. Witness 1 has information demonstrating the falsity of statements De Oliveira has made to the Government. In addition to the false statements De Oliveira made to the FBI that are the basis for the false-statements charge in Count 42 of the superseding indictment, he also made false statements in an April 2023 interview with the FBI and members of the Special Counsel’s Office in Washington, D.C. In particular, when confronted with video footage appearing to show him photographing surveillance cameras in the tunnel at Mar-a-Lago near the storage room where the FBI recovered some of the classified records, De Oliveira claimed he was (1) looking for a shutoff valve because a water pipe had ruptured on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago, and (2) documenting a broken door below one of the cameras. Witness 1 has information about when the pipe broke and the door needed repairs that is inconsistent with De Oliveira’s statements.

But the more interesting testimony is that De Oliveira changed the lock on “a closet inside Trump’s residence … on June 2, 2022” after moving boxes with Walt Nauta.

Witness 1 also has information about De Oliveira’s loyalty to Trump and about De Oliveira’s involvement in the replacement of a lock—at the direction of Trump—on a closet inside Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago on June 2, 2022, the day Nauta and De Oliveira moved boxes as described in paragraphs 62-63 of the superseding indictment.

De Oliveira’s the guy who changed the lock on the storage room after Jay Bratt instructed Evan Corcoran to secure it, then gave away the key to some whose identity he claimed to forget when the FBI showed up on August 8 last year.

Agents had another concern: The lock on the door to the storage room was flimsy. The officials urged staff to put a better lock on the door, which De Oliveira did — using a hasp and a padlock to keep it secure, the people said. If there were still highly sensitive classified documents in the room, such a lock was far from sufficient, but it was better than nothing.


When FBI agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago the morning of Aug. 8 with a court-issued search warrant, De Oliveira was one of the first people they turned to. They asked him to unlock a storage room where boxes of documents were kept, people familiar with what happened said. De Oliveira said he wasn’t sure where the key was, because he’d given it to either the Secret Service agents guarding the former president or staffers for Trump’s post-presidency office, the people said.

Frustrated, the agents simply cut the lock on the gold-colored door. The incident became part of what investigators would see as a troubling pattern with the answers De Oliveira gave them as they investigated Trump, the people said.

But apparently, sometime before that, De Oliveira added a lock to a closet within Trump’s residence, one that may have stored some subset of the roughly 35 boxes that didn’t get moved back into the storage closet so Corcoran could search them.

Perhaps that lock was designed to ensure that Evan Corcoran didn’t accidentally find the other 35 boxes full of classified documents.

The fact that he changed that lock makes his paltry efforts to secure the main storage closet all the more damning.

32 replies
  1. Spocko says:

    I just went off into the whole “I forgot who I gave the key to” tale by De Oliveira. And the “I was just photographing a broken door, not where the security camera is located.” game. This is sounding like Nixon’s plumbers only not as competent
    Now I get why Trump wanted to get rid of the coming and going footage.

      • EH_06AUG2011_1319h says:

        Fun fact: Uncle Junior played one of the plumbers in that movie.

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too short it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Sorry — with only (166) comments to date you don’t qualify for grandfathering. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • chrisanthemama says:

          Weirdly, I have never seen The Sopranos (on my list, though). Looked up Uncle Junior’s best quotes, and here’s one I like: “I’m Sitting Here Like Patience On A Monument Waiting For Discipline To Be Handed Down”. Seems apt. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Yogarhythms says:

    Thanks to Hollywood for link to Dr John’s Somebody Changed The Lock On My Front Door. Chorus:“Something is going on wrong”. So true. The unsealed incriminating witness evidence combined with multiple witnesses legal representation paid by Trump PAC gives off a distinct odor. I’m not sure what it is? Conflict hearing is important but unless there is a compelling significant other family member to beg for Walt and Carlos to remain home with their families their inclination to date is to change locks and move boxes in prison for Trump.

      • SteveBev says:

        The motion on p4 contains typos

        Under the header •3. Witness 2• the substantive paragraph refers to ‘witness 3’ three times.

        I think that might have been the confusion to which greenbird intended to draw attention.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        SteveBev beat me to it, but to reiterate:

        There actually is a typo in the Garcia motion on page 4. As you can see in the description of Witness 2, they are inadvertently referred to as Witness 3. I’m guessing the typist accidentally confused the item number(3) with the witness number (2):

        “3. Witness 2
        Witness 3 worked as a receptionist and assistant for Trump during and after his presidency. Witness 3 has information about the movement of boxes from the White House to Mar-a-Lago and their eventual placement in the storage room. Witness 3 also identified De Oliveira in Mar-a-Lago security footage of Nauta and De Oliveira moving boxes on June 2, 2022, as described in paragraphs 62-63 of the superseding indictment.”

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Once upon a time, far, far away, I used to be a proofreader in a nationally known accounting firm. They had a US Senator as a client, as well as a best selling author, not to mention corporate clients.

          It was a tricky endeavor to walk the line between not offending the secretary while also assuring that filings complied with standards. One day I was called on the carpet for failing to notice there was not a double underline under a number.

          The partner who reamed me out shouted, “What’s your name?!” I said, “Well, right now I think it’s Mud.” Not long after that I quit and drove across country to live in California for a few months. I realized that attention to detail was important, but not my strong suit. When I eventually went to library school, I found reference interviews to be much more fun than cataloging detail.

        • greenbird says:

          what about me !
          i transformed ‘witness’ into ’employee’ … !
          my excuse is that i woke UP confused. easier that way.
          (and there seems to be no delay for edits now.)

      • greenbird says:

        page 8 describes ‘Image 4’ but displays ‘Image 2’ with the 5 circled Boys.
        i did not find (yet) an Image 4.

  3. wasD4v1d says:

    [blockquote]such a lock was far from sufficient, but it was better than nothing[/blockquote]

    Anyone who has watched The Lockpicking Lawyer get past such a lock in seconds would know such a lock would be a triviality.

    • EuroTark says:

      Sometimes a bad lock is worse than no lock, since it gives off the appearance of security while offering none.

      • ExRacerX says:

        My cyclist friends used to tell me, “Bike locks only keep the honest people from stealing your bike.”

        With that in mind, I always used two locks—a U and a case-hardened chain—and took my front wheel with me, but despite that, someone managed to glom one of my disabled steeds anyway…

  4. Amicus12 says:

    Nauta’s response to the USG’s Garcia motion concerning Woodward is due today. How the Court properly resolves that motion without consideration of the USG’s underlying evidence is a bit of a mystery. That said, the USG did not attempt to supplement that motion after the Court struck its sealed submission.

    The Irving Garcia motion seems like a no-brainer. I don’t see how Irving can go forward when one of his current clients is prepared to testify that De Oliveira made materially false statements to the USG. The USG’s motion notes that some courts have accepted, and others rejected, a separate counsel conducting the cross-examination of the client adverse to the defendant. That strikes me as inadequate. More importantly, it struck a district court affirmed by the 1th Circuit as inadequate as the USG points out. United States v. Campbell, No. 04-CR-424, 2005 WL 6436177, at * 4 (N.D. Ga. Mar. 9, 2005) (concluding that a similar “proffered alternative will not do the trick”), aff’d, 491 F.3d 1306 (11th Cir. 2007). Now, in Campbell, the court refused to allow the conflicted attorney’s partner from crossing the adverse client, but the root issue of protecting client confidences exists regardless of the identity of the substitute attorney if the conflicted attorney remains in the case.

    As a side note, there’s a growing body of evidence that Judge Cannon has competency issues. As Daily Beast reports, Judge Cannon ordered the use of a juror form (over objections) that did not provide the jurors in a criminal case the ability to find the defendant “not guilty.”

  5. Alan Charbonneau says:

    John Oliver’s “Stupid Watergate” is now six years old and the reality of Trump and his bumblers is even more silly. Trump thinks “move the boxes to my closet, put a lock on it and Corcoran never finds the boxes – I’m home free!”. That’s they kind of thinking a not terribly bright prepubescent kid would think up.

  6. thorvold says:

    De Oliveira replacing the closet in Trump’s residence shows to me that they understood that these records should be secured in some way. They just didn’t bother to secure them like classified records should be. They may have viewed a standard lock as good enough.

    I could logically see this as a situation where they had a walk-in closet with a standard door knob, and they replaced it with a lockable door knob because they understood that the documents needed a minimum level of control, and putting a lock on the door that potentially only Trump had a key to allowed them to do that (I could also imagine Trump wanting to have the key so that he could have the feeling of control over “his” documents.

    On the other hand if they used a doorknob that they already had on site, then there is a real possibility that it would have been accessible by anyone that had an existing master key for the complex.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump sure wasn’t protecting new shoes or socks when he demanded a new lock for his closet, something he’s probably never done before.

  8. sohelpmedog says:

    One has got to feel sorry for these poor schmucks. Can they possibly believe that Trump will save them? I hope they pay attention during the Garcia hearing.

  9. thorvold says:

    Trump’s lawyer has filed a notice of other proceedings to let Cannon officially know about the other court cases, noting potential scheduling conflicts

    Nauta’s lawyer has filed an opposition to the Garcia hearing, and says he reserves the right to seek the exclusion of testimony from Employee 4. I’m still iffy on why that person’s testimony would be excluded to avoid a potential conflict of interest, rather than get them a different lawyer.

  10. Maureen A Donnelly says:

    you are amazing. i think some should be someone . . .

    gave away the key to some whose identity

    i always turn to you and Allison Gill for and Heather Cox Richardson for the day to day views of all the phuckery to try and understand it. there is so much going on!

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