Donald Trump’s personal valet is expected to find his way to South Florida on Thursday so he finally could be arraigned in the former President’s criminal case over his alleged mishandling of classified U.S. Government documents.
Is the third time the charm?
Waltine Nauta, 40, had been expected by Chief U.S. Magistrate Edwin Torres to appear in Miami June 27 with a local lawyer to represent him in court. But Trump’s only co-defendant in the case failed to appear because his flight out of Newark, New Jersey, was canceled. He also had not retained a South Florida area lawyer to represent him as local court rules require. As of late Wednesday afternoon, court records showed no notice of representation from a criminal defense lawyer who practices in the Southern District of Florida.
Nauta, who has been represented by Stanley Woodward Jr. of Washington, D.C., is a former White House cook who served in the U.S. Navy and was hired as a personal assistant by Trump in 2021. He is charged with a half-dozen offenses toward the end of the 37-count indictment.
Trump pleaded not guilty to all of the counts during a Miami federal court arraignment on June 13. He is accused of hoarding classified documents and refusing demands from the government to return them. But Nauta, who sat in court near the former President that day, did not enter a plea as he lacked a local lawyer. As a condition of bond, U.S. Magistrate Jonathan Goodman instructed both men not to speak with each other about the case. He allowed both defendants to remain free on their own recognizance.
Then, at a June 27 hearing before Torres, Nauta was a no-show as thousands of flights were canceled or delayed in the New York area due to bad weather, and the co-defendant’s plane never got airborne from Newark Liberty International Airport..
The government did not object to a continuance. But there was still the issue of no local lawyer, and Torres emphasized to Woodward the need to quickly retain one. Woodward also told the court he had a conflict involving another case and announced he would not be present for Nauta’s arraignment Thursday.
Whoever ends up representing Nauta will need a security clearance from the Department of Justice so that he or she may inspect classified papers at issue in the case, according to government court filings.
The lawyer will also have a lot of work to catch up on. Prosecutors supervised by Special Counsel Jack Smith said in a recent court filing that they turned over an initial tranche of evidence to the defense last month. The materials, all unclassified, include grand jury testimony, witness names and “copies of closed-circuit television footage the government has obtained during its investigations.”
Other documents were filed under seal. But U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart ruled Wednesday that some of the material should be released after the government redacts the evidence to screen for sources and information gathering methods that it deems too sensitive for public consumption. He gave prosecutors until 5 p.m. Thursday to file a sealed motion that would outline what it would redact and what it will make public.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who set a Aug.14 date to start jury selection, has given the defense until Monday to respond to a government motion to move the trial’s start to Dec. 11.