Trump aide scheduled for Miami court appearance in documents case

Waltine Nauta, the only co-defendant of Donald Trump in the federal government’s classified documents case against the former president, is scheduled to appear Tuesday before a magistrate in Miami.

Nauta, 40, appeared in a Miami federal court June 13 with Trump, who pleaded not guilty to charges of improper handling of classified papers and obstruction of justice in a 37-count indictment. But Nauta did not enter a plea because he lacked a local lawyer.

Through midday Monday, the court record was absent of any sign that Nauta has retained a Florida lawyer. He is currently represented by Washington, D.C.-based attorney Stanley Woodward.

From cook to valet to alleged co-conspirator

According to court records, Nauta was born in 1983 in the U.S. territory of Guam in the South Pacific, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2001. He was rated as a “culinary specialist.” Eleven years ago, he was assigned to the Presidential Food Service, which is operated by the Navy. After Trump’s election, he became a presidential valet.

“Nauta was a member of the United States Navy stationed as a valet in the White House during Trump’s presidency,” the indictment states. “Beginning in August 2021, Nauta became an executive assistant in The Office of Donald J. Trump and served as Trump’s personal aide or ‘body man.’ Nauta reported to Trump, worked closely with Trump, and traveled with Trump.”

Nauta faces six criminal counts including conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding records, concealing documents, scheming to conceal facts from investigators and making false or misleading statements.

For example, the government alleges, Nauta, at the former President’s direction, moved boxes of illegally retained documents from a storage room at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach to Trump’s residence so he could examine them.

But under questioning by the FBI, according to the indictment, Nauta falsely asserted he was not aware that boxes were transferred to the residence.

Pages from a Department of Justice court filing on Aug. 30, 2022, in response to a request from the legal team of former President Donald Trump for a special master to review the documents seized during the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago, are photographed Aug. 31, 2022.

Jon Elswick/AP

Pages from a Department of Justice court filing on Aug. 30, 2022 during civil litigation between former President Donald Trump and the federal government. Prosecutors later brought criminal charges alleging Trump, with the assistance of personal aide Waltine Nauta, improperly handled classified documents and obstructed justice.

“I wish, I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t—I honestly just don’t know,” Nauta is alleged in the indictment to have told agents about the boxes’ location.

The government also asserts that Nauta was aware that records were classified and even took a photograph of boxes that had toppled over, spilling some papers on the floor.

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