Walt Nauta, an aide to former President Donald Trump, entered a not guilty plea in Miami federal court.
He is accused of helping Trump hide classified documents that Trump took with him when he left the White House in 2021.
Nauta, a retired Navy major petty officer who served as Trump’s White House valet, appeared in court and hired a new defense attorney, Sasha Dadon, to represent him.
Prosecutors allege Nauta hid boxes of documents from Trump’s lawyers during a search at Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. The documents have been sought by the US Department of Justice, and Nauta has been charged with obstruction of justice, making false statements, and withholding and concealing documents.
During the brief appearance, Nauta smiled at reporters but made no statement. His defense attorney entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. The trial date for both Nauta and Trump remains uncertain.
Nauta’s defense attorney Sasha Dadan said, “My client maintains his innocence and looks forward to defending himself against these allegations.” He said he would vigorously challenge the allegations and present a strong defence.
The indictment against Nauta and Trump, filed by special counsel Jack Smith, accuses them of conspiring to conceal records Trump took from the White House. Prosecutors claim that Nauta, under Trump’s direction, moved boxes of documents with classified markings to avoid detection by Trump’s attorney and federal authorities.
Mar-a-Lago’s surveillance footage reportedly shows the movement of several boxes in the days before federal investigators visited the property. A search warrant application partially unsealed by the Justice Department revealed that the evidence had recently been moved.
Trump, the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, pleaded not guilty to charges of maintaining national security documents without authorization and obstruction of justice. He is the first former US President to face criminal charges in federal and state courts.
The trial, set for an initial date of August 14, could be delayed due to the complexity of handling the highly classified documents as evidence. Trump also faces a separate case in New York related to alleged falsification of business records regarding secret money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign.
As the legal proceedings progress, the case against Trump and his aides will continue to attract significant attention. The outcome of the trial could have a significant impact on Trump’s political future and impact on the broader political landscape.