Trump aide Nauta charged, ex-president says

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Walt Nauta, a personal aide to Donald Trump, was charged alongside the former Republican president on Thursday, Trump said on his social media network on Friday.

Nauta, a former military valet, worked for Trump in the White House before accompanying the former president to work for him at his Florida resort.

The charges were brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed to oversee both the investigation into Trump’s retention of classified records and a separate investigation into efforts to undo Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

A spokesperson for Smith’s office could not be immediately reached for comment. The Wall Street Journal and CNN first reported the indictment citing unnamed sources.

Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, declined to comment.

The charges come after Trump’s legal team was told in recent days that he could face potential criminal charges in the classified documents case.

Nauta allegedly helped move cardboard boxes to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, which contained documents and other memorabilia from Trump’s time as president.

Nauta initially told investigators he didn’t know if Trump kept any classified files, according to media reports, but later said he moved some of the boxes.

The Justice Department then subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago that corroborated that boxes had been moved, raising suspicions of possible obstruction of justice.

Nauta has long been considered a possible defendant in the criminal case, according to sources familiar with the matter.

It is common for prosecutors in a criminal case to first bring charges against lower level individuals to induce them to cooperate in order to secure charges against higher targets.

Investigators seized about 13,000 documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida nearly a year ago. One hundred were marked as classified, even though one of Trump’s lawyers had previously said that all files bearing classified marks had been referred to the government.

Trump has previously defended his retention of documents, suggesting he declassified them while president.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub and Susan Heavey; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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