Trump aide Walt Nauta pleads not guilty in classified documents case

Walt Nauta, aide to former president Donald Trump, disembarks Trump’s airplane, known as Trump Force One, in Bedminster, New Jersey, following a court appearance at Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Miami, June 13, 2023.

Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Walt Nauta, former President Donald Trump’s valet and co-defendant in the classified documents case, pleaded not guilty to six criminal charges Thursday at his arraignment in federal court.

Nauta said little during the brief hearing before a federal magistrate judge in Miami. When asked if he had read the charges against him and if he was able to speak with a lawyer, Nauta replied, “Yes, your honor,” NBC News reported.

The arraignment lasted about five minutes.

Nauta entered his plea more than three weeks after Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts related to his alleged efforts to hold onto top secret documents after leaving the White House in 2021.

The Navy veteran and aide to the former president appeared at that initial June 13 court hearing, but he was not arraigned because he did not have a local Florida lawyer there to represent him. Nauta’s arraignment was delayed until June 27, but that was also postponed because his flight to Miami was canceled.

In the days before the hearing, there was no indication on the criminal docket that Nauta had retained local counsel. But about an hour before the arraignment, a source familiar with the matter, who asked to speak anonymously ahead of the court hearing, confirmed to CNBC that Nauta would be represented by Sasha Dadan, a criminal defense attorney in South Florida.

Dadan did not respond to requests for comment.

Stanley Woodward, a lawyer for Nauta who is based in Washington, D.C., declined CNBC’s request for comment before the hearing.

The indictment from special counsel Jack Smith accuses Nauta of working with Trump to move and hide boxes containing hundreds of classified documents that were stored at the former president’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, after leaving office.

Nauta is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding and corruptly concealing documents, and making false representations. The most serious charges against Nauta carry 20-year maximum prison terms.

The trial is currently set for mid-August, though experts anticipate that date will be pushed much later. Smith has asked the court to reschedule the trial to start in December. Judge Aileen Cannon has given attorneys for Trump and Nauta until next Monday to respond to Smith’s request.

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