WASHINGTON−Donald Trump’s longtime personal aide Waltine “Walt” Nauta was indicted alongside the former president, the Justice Department disclosed Friday, bringing to light a significant piece of the conspiracy and obstruction of justice case against Trump for his handling of classified White House documents.
Trump broke the news first, posting on Truth Social just before noon that Nauta had been indicted by the “Thugs” at the Justice Department.
“He has done a fantastic job!” Trump said. “They are trying to destroy his life, like the lives of so many others, hoping that he will say bad things about “Trump.”
The Justice Department indictment, unsealed several hours later, charges Nauta with conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document in a federal investigation; scheme to conceal; and false statements and representations.
Trump, for his part, was charged with willful retention of national defense information; conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document in a federal investigation; scheme to conceal; and false statements and representations.
Efforts to reach Nauta were unsuccessful. Nauta’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward, declined to comment.
The indictment of Nauta in connection with the case is significant because of his close relationship with Trump and his personal role in handling Trump’s classified documents.
According to the indictment, Nauta became a focus of the Justice Department investigation after it became apparent that he had been moving boxes from one room at Mar-a-Lago to another at Trump’s personal direction. This occurred during the period when prosecutors had ordered Trump to return classified government documents that they suspected he had brought with him to his South Florida estate.
The indictment was handed up Thursday by a federal grand jury. It said that after Trump was served with a subpoena to return all classified documents in the spring of 2022, the former president took several steps to “obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal his continued retention of classified documents.”
As part of that effort, Trump directed Nauta “to move boxes of documents to conceal them” from his own attorney, the FBI, and the grand jury hearing evidence in the case, the indictment said.
Also, Nauta spoke to investigators at least once, and allegedly made false statements by claiming he didn’t know where boxes were, or whether they had been moved, when he actually did know − and in some cases had moved them himself, the indictment said.
Who is Walt Nauta?
Nauta was a member of the U.S. Navy stationed as a valet in the White House during Trump’s presidency, who left that position to join the former president as a personal aide at Mar-a-Lago in August 2021.
The indictment said that he was known informally as Trump’s “body man,” or the person frequently at Trump’s side to attend to his needs and requests. It added that Nauta reported to Trump, worked closely with Trump and traveled with him.
Nauta was also one of the White House staffers who packed items, including some of Trump’s boxes, as he was preparing to leave office after losing to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, the indictment said.
Trump was personally involved in this process also, the indictment said, and “caused his boxes, containing hundreds of classified documents, to be transported from the White House to The Mar-a-Lago Club.”
In March 2021, Nauta and others began moving some of Trump’s boxes from one room to another at Mar-a-Lago, storing more than two dozen of them in a bathroom.
When interviewed by the FBI more than a year later, in May 2022, Nauta made “false and misleading statements” regarding the location and movement of the boxes, the indictment said.
In one case, the indictment said, investigators asked Nauta if he had any information that could help them understand where particular boxes were kept and how they were kept, including whether they were secured or locked. “Something that makes the intelligence community feel better about these things, you know?” an investigator asked Nauta.
Nauta, the indictment alleges, falsely responded, “I wish, I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t—I honestly just don’t know.”
Trump’s relationship with Nauta
Trump has long described Nauta as being loyal and helpful, both during their time together at the White House and, later, at the former president’s Palm Beach estate and invite-only club.
Trump praised Nauta in his Truth Social post Friday, saying he “served proudly with me in the White House, retired as Senior Chief, and then transitioned into private life as a personal aide.”
Trump also described Nauta as “strong, brave, and a Great Patriot,” while again claiming the FBI and DOJ were “CORRUPT!”
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