Federal authorities have charged a longtime aide to Donald Trump whose responsibilities included moving and carrying cardboard boxes in which the former president likes to keep mementos and papers.
Read the full text of the Trump indictment in classified documents case
On Friday, a 49-page indictment was unsealed charging the Navy Veteran with six criminal counts, alleging that he conspired with and helped the former president hide his unlawful retained classified documents from Trump’s attorney, the FBI and a grand jury, and lying about it. The offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
An attorney for Nauta declined to comment.
Nauta was charged alongside Trump on five of the counts. The former president was charged with 37 of 38 counts of the overall indictment on counts including conspiring to obstruct justice, willful retention of national security information and false statements.
“I have just learned that the “Thugs” from the Department of Injustice will be Indicting a wonderful man, Walt Nauta, a member of the U.S. Navy, who served proudly with me in the White House, retired as Senior Chief, and then transitioned into private life as a personal aide,” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Friday morning, disclosing the news hours before the official court unsealing of charges.
Nauta was with the former president in New Jersey on Friday morning as the news broke, said a person who was also with the two at Trump’s Bedminster club.
The aide who stayed: Walt Nauta, key witness in Trump documents case
When first questioned by FBI agents in the spring of 2022, Nauta denied any knowledge that sensitive documents were being stored at Trump’s club, The Washington Post has reported.
But when questioned a second time, he told investigators that he had moved boxes at Trump’s direction after prosecutors sent a subpoena seeking the return of all documents marked classified and kept at Mar-a-Lago.
The indictment paints a detailed portrait of Nauta’s involvement. He was among employees who packed up Trump’s papers at the White House, and followed him to Mar-A-Lago. On Dec. 7, 2021, Nauta opened a storage room door there and found several of Trump’s boxes toppled over with their contents spilled on the floor, including a document marked “SECRET” and releasable only to five U.S. allies. Nauta took a photo and shared it with another employee with classified information visible.
Between Nov. 2021 and Jan. 2022, Trump had Nauta and a second employee bring boxes from the storage room to his residence for his review. Other Trump employees said Trump was reviewing them under pressure to belatedly return government records to the National Archives and Records Administration, and Nauta discussed with some of them how Trump was “tracking” the boxes and wanted new box lids because he had written too much on them.
The indictment says Nauta then moved 15 boxes in his vehicle for return delivery to NARA. But when questioned by the FBI later, he allegedly made three false statements, including by saying he “was not aware of Trump’s boxes being brought to Trump’s residence for his review” before their return to the Archives, and that he didn’t know how boxes that he moved for delivery to NARA had gotten to the residence.
In a voluntary interview with the FBI on May 26, 2022, Nauta was asked whether he knew where the boxes had been stored prior to before being moved to Trump’s residence, and whether they were secure. “I wish, I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t — I honestly just don’t know,” Nauta said, according to the indictment.
The indictment also charges that Nauta was also involved in helping Trump mislead attorney Evan Corcoran — identified in papers as Trump attorney 1 — who was trying to ensure Trump’s compliance with a May 2022 grand jury subpoena to return sensitive government records as part of a criminal investigation.
Between a May 23, 2022, meeting between Trump and his attorneys and June 2, when Corcoran was told to review documents in the storage room, Nauta removed 64 boxes and delivered them Trump’s residential area, according to charging papers. But before June 2, Nauta only moved 30 boxes into the storage room, prosecutors said, and neither Trump nor Nauta told Corcoran that boxes had been removed.
Nauta, whose full first name is Waltine, continued to work and travel with Trump throughout the long-running investigation.
Nauta was known in the White House for his quiet on-the-job demeanor and ability to stay out of messy internal and partisan squabbling, several colleagues told The Post earlier this year. He frequently traveled with Trump to his homes at Mar-a-Lago and in Bedminster, N.J., learning his boss’s rhythms and catering to his daily needs.
In an interview in Guam, where Nauta was born and grew up, his aunt said he has conveyed to family that he was following directions when he moved the boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
“He told his mom there’s nothing to worry about. He didn’t do anything wrong. All he was instructed was to put the boxes where they were supposed to go,” said Elly Nauta, who lives two doors down from Nauta’s mother.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Source: Washington Post
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