Arraignment for Trump aide is rescheduled


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Washington — The arraignment for a longtime employee of former President Donald Trump at the center of the special counsel’s investigation into the alleged illegal retention of classified documents has been rescheduled after his flight was canceled due to severe weather. 

The arraignment is now scheduled for July 6 after Nauta’s travels were disrupted by storms and he failed to secure local counsel to represent him in the matter.  

Nauta’s current attorney, Washington-based Stan Woodward, asked for the new July 6 arraignment date and told Judge Edwin Torres that he’s still seeking a Florida-based attorney to take the case.  Woodward said he hopes to have local counsel by July 6.  The judge agreed to the delay and said “there’s good cause” to do so, based on the storms.  

According to flight tracking site Flightaware, over 1,000 U.S. flights were canceled on Tuesday morning. Nauta’s defense attorney said that storms stranded Nauta’s flight on the tarmac for three hours after eight hours waiting at Newark airport. 

Woodward also told the judge he expects Nauta to seek a delay in the first pretrial conference in this case, which is set for July 14 in Fort Pierce, Florida.   

Walt Nauta, an aide to former President Donald Trump, follows Trump as they board his airplane, known as Trump Force One, en route to Iowa at Palm Beach International Airport on March 13, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Walt Nauta, an aide to former President Donald Trump, follows Trump as they board his airplane, known as Trump Force One, en route to Iowa at Palm Beach International Airport on March 13, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Nauta is accused of working with the former president to conceal boxes that allegedly contained records marked classified just as federal investigators issued a subpoena to retrieve them. 

According to the indictment, filed earlier this month in the Southern District of Florida, Trump and his White House aides, including Nauta, packed up items from the White House in the waning days of the Trump Administration and moved them to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Those items included documents that allegedly contained classified markings and were not meant to leave federal custody, court documents say. 

It was in Florida that investigators say employees including Nauta shuffled the boxes of records around the resort — including into ballrooms, a storage room and a bathroom — at Trump’s behest. Between November 2021 and approximately June 2022, Nauta and others allegedly transferred boxes between numerous rooms inside Mar-a-Lago at Trump’s direction, and many of those movements were caught on security camera video reviewed by the Justice Department.   

In the months after Trump left the presidency, special counsel Jack Smith alleges the former president resisted efforts by the National Archives and Records Administration to fully retrieve all records that had to be turned over from his time in the White House. The discovery of classified records in a batch of boxes the Trump team did return to NARA prompted a Justice Department investigation into the matter. 

Nauta was interviewed by the FBI in May 2022 about his connection to the records, and prosecutors allege he lied to investigators about the matter, denying he knew about the handling of the boxes. 

On May 11, 2022, a grand jury issued a subpoena requiring the former president’s representatives to hand over any and all documents with classified markings in his possession. Weeks later, before investigators came to retrieve the records pursuant to the subpoena, court documents allege Nauta removed a total of 64 boxes from the storage room in which they were being held at the time and brought them to Trump’s residence. Prosecutors alleged Nauta moved the boxes at the direction of the former president. 

Justice Department officials then traveled to Mar-a-Lago on June 3, 2022, to collect the subpoenaed records and, according to Smith’s indictment, Trump’s attorney attested that they fully complied with the order, unaware that any boxes had been moved from the storage room.

Prosecutors say Trump told Justice Department officials he was an “open book,” but earlier that day, Nauta had loaded numerous boxes onto a plane before Trump was set to travel north for the summer. 

After reviewing the security camera video from the time in question, the indictment says federal investigators executed a search warrant on Mar-a-lago for any remaining documents with classified markings. That August 2022 search yielded 103 allegedly sensitive records.

Trump was ultimately charged by the special counsel with 37 federal counts including the illegal retention of national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Nauta was also charged with the conspiracy count, as well as crimes including making false statements to investigators dating back to his May 2022 FBI interview. 

Trump pleaded not guilty in June and has consistently denied any wrongdoing. On Saturday, he told a group of supporters in Washington, D.C., “Whatever documents the president decides to take with him, he has the absolute right to take them. He has the absolute right to keep them, or he can give them back to NARA if he wants.”

The former president’s legal team is expected to file motions to dismiss based in part on accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. 

Nauta appeared with Trump in federal court earlier this month but was not arraigned at the time because he did not have local attorneys present. 

A trial date in Florida is currently in flux as prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to request a months-long delay after a federal judge initially scheduled the case to go to trial in August. As part of their conditions of release, Trump and Nauta are not allowed to communicate with one another about the details of the investigation, but given their work relationship, a magistrate judge in Miami did not completely bar them from speaking about other matters. 

The special counsel had asked that the list of 84 potential witnesses remain sealed pending trial, but after a coalition of media organizations, including CBS News, petitioned the court to make the names public, Cannon ruled the witnesses list would not be sealed, at least for now.  But she also said in her order that the list may not have to be filed on the public docket at all, which leaves open the possibility that those names may never be made public.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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