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Walt Nauta, Trump aide sticking by the ex-president, faces arraignment in documents case

Walt Nauta, a valet for Donald Trump, is set to be arraigned Tuesday on charges that he helped the former U.S. president hide classified documents that the Justice Department wanted back.

Nauta, who served at the White House before joining the ex-president in Florida, faces 6 charges.

A closeup of a bald man in a suit is shown.

A valet for Donald Trump is set to be arraigned on charges that he helped the former U.S. president hide classified documents that the Justice Department wanted back.

Walt Nauta, a navy veteran born in Guam, faces six federal charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, corruptly concealing a document or record and making false statements. Trump, the first current or former president to be indicted, faces a 38-count indictment filed by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith.

Nauta will be arraigned Tuesday at 9:45 a.m. ET before Chief Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres in Miami.

Nauta fetched Trump’s Diet Cokes as his valet at the White House before joining him as a personal aide at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago.

Indictment alleges Nauta lied about boxes

He is accused of moving boxes containing reams of sensitive information at Trump’s direction and then lying about it to investigators.

At one point, the indictment alleges, Nauta discovered several boxes had fallen over in the storage room, dumping their contents on the floor. Nauta snapped and shared photographs of the scene, which included a document with a visible marking warning it was restricted to only the Five Eyes intelligence alliance of the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Nauta was key to Trump’s investigation early on, with FBI agents grilling him about the movement of boxes inside Mar-a-Lago weeks before serving their search warrant at the property.

Although prosecutors say Nauta moved boxes of documents to Trump’s residence for his review at his direction, Nauta lied to agents by saying he wasn’t aware of that happening, according to the indictment.

When agents asked if he knew where on the property the boxes had been stored, he said, “I wish, I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t — I honestly just don’t know.”

‘Misplaced loyalty’

Nauta is the latest in a series of Trump loyalists to face potential jail time after his work for the former president. Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer and attorney, spent more than 13 months in prison over payouts he helped arrange during the 2016 presidential race to keep women from going public about alleged sexual encounters with Trump. As well, Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, just finished serving three months at Rikers Island after pleading guilty to receiving $1.7 million US in unreported job perks.

Both Cohen and former Trump lawyer Ty Cobb told The Associated Press in interviews earlier this month that Nauta should consider co-operating with federal authorities, as his loyalty to Trump is now jeopardizing his freedom.

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“I think it’s really sad that people were not able to convince him of his misplaced loyalty,” Cobb said of Nauta’s decision not to co-operate with prosecutors. “He should be a witness. He shouldn’t be a defendant. But you can only dangle that opportunity for so long before you have to shoot.”

Cohen said he fears Nauta will be “just another Trump acolyte whose life has been turned completely upside down for his misguided loyalty to a man who didn’t deserve it.”

In the Trump case, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon on Monday set a July 14 hearing tied to how classified information in the case will be handled. Both parties and the court will need to follow a strict and meticulous set of rules set forth in a law known as the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) to protect the classified records and manage how they can be disclosed.

Prosecutors with Smith’s team last week asked Cannon to delay the beginning of the ex-president’s trial until Dec. 11., about four months after the date she initially set.

Trump, at an appearance for his own indictment earlier this month, was instructed not to discuss the case with Nauta.

With files from CBC News and Reuters

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