Who Is Walt Nauta, the Man Indicted with Donald Trump?

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walt nauta, wearing a blue suit and red tie, walks past two men while leaving a black car on an airport tarmac

When former President Donald Trump was indicted in June for allegedly mishandling government documents, only one other person was charged along with him: his personal aide Walt Nauta, who had previously been largely unknown to the public.

Federal prosecutors claim Nauta personally moved boxes of illegally retained classified documents to Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago and lied to FBI investigators after doing so, claiming he was unaware of boxes being brought there. He also refused to cooperate with the Justice Department investigation into Trump’s mishandling of those documents.

When Trump was indicted with 37 felony counts on June 8, Nauta was charged with six counts of his own, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, and making false statements. The obstruction charges alone carry a possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Nauta, 40, was arraigned in Miami on Thursday, after multiple delays because Nauta didn’t have a Florida attorney to help represent him. Both he and the former president, who was arraigned June 13, pleaded not guilty. Judge Aileen Cannon set a trial date for August 14, but federal prosecutors are seeking for a delay until December.

A U.S. Navy veteran who worked for Trump in the White House and continued serving him after his term ended, Nauta is described in the indictment as Trump’s loyal “body man” and was described by The New York Times as “one of the few constants in Mr. Trump’s shrunken orbit” since leaving office.

Known to few outside Trump’s inner circle before the indictment, many are now asking who Nauta is and why is he so fiercely loyal to Trump, even to the point of going to prison for him.

Who Is Walt Nauta?

donald trump, wearing a blue suit and red tie, walks in front of several police officer along with walt nauta, who wears a blue suit and sunglasses while looking at a smartphone
Former President Donald Trump and his aide Walt Nauta (right) arrive at an airport after Trump spoke at the Georgia Republican Party’s state convention on June 10, 2023.Getty Images

A native of Guam, Waltine “Walt” Nauta enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2011, where he served as a cook, and later joined the Presidential Food Service, which provides meals and support for the president and first family, as well as catering and dinners for visiting heads of state.

Nauta still worked there when Trump took office, after which he became personal valet to the president. He worked in a small White House passageway connecting the West Wing to a private dining room, responded to a presidential call button, and kept Trump’s refrigerator stocked with Diet Cokes to feed his famous soda habit.

After Trump lost his 2020 reelection bid, Nauta also left the White House and continued to work for Trump at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida. He became a constant presence at Trump’s side: keeping his suits pressed, carrying hair spray or hand sanitizer for him, and even straightening the collar of his shirt without prompting.

Unlike many in Trump’s proximity, Nauta was seen as apolitical and without ulterior motive, not trying to monetize or become famous from his association with the former president. Trump grew to trust and like Nauta; he has described him on Truth Social as a “wonderful man” who has “done a fantastic job.”

Why Was Nauta Indicted?

Between November 2021 and January 2022, under Trump’s orders, Nauta allegedly moved boxes containing illegally retained classified documents from a Mar-a-Lago storage room to Trump’s residence so the former president could go through them, according to the indictment. Nauta reportedly exchanged text messages with another employee that prosecutors say prove he knew what Trump was doing; Nauta wrote Trump “knocked out two boxes yesterday.”

Prosecutors claim Nauta knew the records were classified, and at one point in December 2021, he took a photo of boxes that had tipped over and spilled contents onto the floor. Among the affected documents was information about a secret agreement among the intelligence agencies in the United States, England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

After the Justice Department began investigating Trump, Nauta was allegedly captured on video surveillance moving 64 boxes from a storage room to Trump’s residence, then later returning only 30 boxes to the storage room. However, when questioned by the FBI, he falsely claimed to be unaware of boxes being brought to the residence, according to the indictment.

“I wish, I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t—I honestly just don’t know,” Nauta said when asked by FBI agents if he knew where the boxes were on the property, according to Time.

Nauta is accused of concealing documents from the federal grand jury and misleading a lawyer who was working on gathering documents to comply with a subpoena. In fall 2022, after prosecutors started to doubt Nauta’s statements, he was notified that he could face charges himself, but Nauta continued to decline cooperating with prosecutors, according to the indictment.

Trump and his allies have said the threat of indictment had a psychological toll on the normally private Nauta but that he remained a stoic presence around the former president. They have also accused prosecutors of engaging in unethical behavior to try to persuade Nauta to cooperate with them.

Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s chief of counterintelligence, reportedly said during a meeting with Nauta that he was aware Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, was seeking a superior court judgeship in Washington. Trump and his attorneys believe Bratt was trying to entice Woodward into securing Nauta’s cooperation, in exchange for help with Woodward’s judicial application.

On his Truth Social account, Trump called this an attempt to “bribe & intimidate” Woodward into convincing Nauta to “flip.” The Guardian has noted that Bratt doesn’t have the ability to influence a judicial application, which is handled by the White House counsel’s office.

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