MIAMI (AP) — A valet for Donald Trump accused of helping the former president hide classified documents from federal authorities is due back in a Florida court on Thursday after an earlier appearance was postponed because of a canceled flight.
Walt Nauta, who was charged alongside Trump in June in a 38-count indictment alleging the mishandling of classified documents, is set to be arraigned before a federal magistrate in Miami. That was to have happened twice before already, but he has struggled to retain a lawyer licensed in Florida to represent him.
Trump pleaded not guilty during his June 13 arraignment to charges including willful retention of national defense information. But Nauta’s arraignment was postponed that day because he did not have with him a defense attorney authorized to practice in Florida. It was pushed back again last week when a flight from New Jersey he was to have taken was canceled after being delayed on the tarmac for hours.
The indictment filed by special counsel Jack Smith and his team of prosecutors accuses Nauta of conspiring with Trump to conceal records that he had taken with him from the White House after this term ended in January 2021.
Prosecutors allege that Nauta, at the former president’s direction, moved boxes of documents bearing classification markings so that they would not be found by a Trump lawyer who was tasked with searching the home for classified records to be returned to the government. That, prosecutors said, resulted in a false claim to the Justice Department that a “diligent search” for classified documents had been done and that all documents responsive to a subpoena had been returned.
Nauta is a Navy veteran who fetched Trump’s Diet Cokes as his valet at the White House before joining him as a personal aide at Mar-a-Lago. He is regularly by Trump’s side, even traveling in Trump’s motorcade to the Miami courthouse for their appearance earlier this month and accompanying him afterwards to a stop at the city’s famed Cuban restaurant Versailles, where he helped usher supporters eager to take selfies with the former president.
Tucker reported from Washington.
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