Trump aide Walt Nauta pleads not guilty in classified documents case at arraignment

It's the third time an arraignment has been scheduled for Trump's codefendant.

ByOlivia Rubin ABCNews logo
Thursday, July 6, 2023
Trump pleads not guilty in classified documents case
Donald Trump became the first former president to face a judge on federal charges as he pleaded not guilty in a Miami courtroom Tuesday to dozens of felony counts accusing him of hoarding classified documents and refusing government demands to give them back.

Walt Nauta, the longtime aide to former President Donald Trump who was charged alongside him in the special counsel's classified documents case, has pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment in Miami.

Nauta, who first worked for Trump in the White House before accompanying him to Florida following Trump's presidency, is facing six counts as part of the criminal case involving Trump's handling of classified documents. The charges include conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.

Nauta's arraignment was repeatedly delayed due in part to his inability to obtain local counsel to represent him. A magistrate judge in Miami warned Nauta's attorney last week that today's arraignment should be considered the "drop dead" deadline.

Walt Nauta walks off of former President Donald Trump's airplane as they head to Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, in Newark, N.J. on June 13, 2023.
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The longtime aide first appeared in court in Miami with Trump in June, but was not arraigned because he did not have local representation. He and Trump sat with each other at the defendants' table, separated by Trump's attorney, for the duration of the hearing.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Nauta, 40, was then set to be arraigned last week, but an attorney for Nauta, Stan Woodward, told the judge that Nauta still had not retained local counsel, and was also unable to get to Florida due to travel issues.

Nauta wanted to "express his sincerest condolences to the court," Woodward told the judge.

"He takes very seriously the charges," Woodward said.

Former President Donald Trump's valet Walt Nauta, left, visits Versailles restaurant with Trump on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Miami.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Members of special counsel Jack Smith's team who brought the case did not oppose a delay in the arraignment, but asked for the delay to be as "brief as possible."

Smith was not present for the hearing, but members of his team, including Jay Bratt and David Harbach, were in court for the government.

Trump pleaded not guilty last month to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials, after prosecutors said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation's defense capabilities. He has denied all charges and denounced the probe as a political witch hunt.

Prosecutors allege that Nauta moved boxes containing classified documents around Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate at Trump's direction, in an effort to prevent the documents from being turned over to authorities.

In one instance, prosecutors allege that boxes were moved out of a storage room at the Palm Beach estate before Trump's attorney searched the room for documents to hand over to investigators in compliance with a grand jury subpoena seeking their return.

According to the indictment, Nauta was seen on surveillance footage moving boxes.

Nauta, a Guam native who enlisted in the Navy in 2001, worked in the Trump White House, where in 2021 he was promoted to the rank of Senior Chief Culinary Specialist, according to Navy records. Trump, according to investigators, subsequently promoted Nauta to be his valet, otherwise known as a "body man."

After Trump left the White House and moved to Florida, Nauta left the Navy and continued to work for the former president. In August 2021, Nauta became Trump's executive assistant, serving as his personal aide, a role in which he "reported to Trump, worked closely with Trump and traveled with Trump," according to the federal indictment.

ABC News' Will Steakin contributed to this report.