Trump aide Walt Nauta pleads not guilty in classified documents case

By Jack Queen

(Reuters) – Donald Trump’s aide Walt Nauta pleaded not guilty on Thursday in a Miami federal courthouse to helping the former U.S. president hide top-secret documents Trump took when he left the White House in 2021.

Attorney Stanley Woodward argued on Nauta’s behalf in a minutes-long arraignment. Nauta’s Florida-based attorney, Sasha Dadan, was also present. Nauta and the lawyers then walked into a conference room without speaking to reporters.

Nauta smiled at reporters but said nothing when he arrived in court ahead of the hearing.

Nauta made his first appearance alongside Trump on June 13 but was not arraigned due to lack of an attorney licensed to practice in Florida. His indictment was postponed a second time in late June for the same reason.

Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has pleaded not guilty to 37 counts of allegedly keeping national security documents without authorization and obstructing justice.

Nauta, a former White House valet and now a Trump aide, faces six counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, misrepresentation and withholding and concealing documents.

Prosecutors allege Nauta hid boxes of documents from Trump’s attorneys who were looking for classified documents wanted by the US Department of Justice. He is also accused of lying to investigators during a voluntary interview.

Prosecutors have asked US District Judge Aileen Cannon to postpone the trial until December 11. She had set an initial trial date for August 14.

Trump is the first past or present US president to face criminal charges in federal and state courts.

Prosecution Special Counsel Jack Smith accuses Trump of risking national secrets by taking thousands of sensitive papers with him when he left the White House in January 2021 and storing them haphazardly in his estate of Mar-a-Lago in Florida and its New Jersey golf club.

In addition to the documents case, Trump is accused in New York of allegedly falsifying business documents to conceal silent money payments to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign. He has also pleaded not guilty. in that case.

Trump denies wrongdoing and says the investigations are part of a political conspiracy against him.

Cannon has scheduled a hearing for July 14 on how classified information in the case will be handled. Legal experts have said the complexities surrounding the use of highly classified documents as evidence are likely to delay Trump’s trial.

(Reporting by Jack Queen in Miami; Additional reporting by Jacqueline Thomsen; Editing by Amy Stevens and Howard Goller)

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