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Trump valet arraigned over role in classified documents case

Walt Nauta faces six charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, corruptly concealing a record and making false statements

Waltine “Walt” Nauta, widely known for his role as Donald Trump’s personal valet, was arraigned on Thursday over his role in the federal classified documents case.

Nauta, 40, arrived in the former president’s orbit by way of a military assignment.

Trump’s “body man”, as he would become known, was raised as one of six siblings in the village of Agat, Guam, which has a population of about 4,515. His aunt Elly Nauta told the Washington Post in March that he was always a “good boy” and had enlisted in the Navy as a cook in 2001 “to see the world”.

After rising to the rank of culinary specialist, Nauta was assigned to presidential food service in 2012, which prepares meals for the president and first family, as well as catering dinners for visiting heads of state.

Nauta worked in a small White House passageway connecting the West Wing to a private dining room. After Trump was elected president, Nauta was assigned to Trump’s military valet. It fell to him to answer the presidential call button, often to serve Diet Cokes, sometimes Big Macs.

“Everyone realized Walt is the one who Trump knows and feels comfortable with. So let’s just give Trump what he wants, which is familiarity,” a former official told the Post.

But he was not regarded as a political operator, doing no more or less than what was required of him. When Trump’s term ended in January 2021, Nauta followed the ex-president to Florida.

“There was a need for someone who wasn’t too proud to get a new tie, pick up dry cleaning, follow him around on the golf course, staff his dinners, do things that a lot of people just aren’t dying to spend their whole life doing,” a Trump adviser told the Post.

But Nauta now faces six federal charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, corruptly concealing a document or record, and making false statements, over his alleged role in the classified documents case.

According to the government, Nauta moved boxes from the White House in the dying days of Trump’s presidency, repeatedly moved them again at Trump’s direction at Mar-a-Lago, and then lied about it to investigators.

The allegations include claims that Nauta discovered that several boxes in a storage room at Mar-a-Lago had fallen, spilling classified documents, and photographed the mess that allegedly included documents restricted to the “Five Eyes” western intelligence alliance.

Later asked by investigators if he knew where the boxes had been stored, he allegedly said: “I wish, I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t – I honestly just don’t know.”

Nauta’s inclusion as an alleged co-conspirator in the case was met with opposition by Trump last month who described him as “a wonderful man” who had “served proudly with me in the White House, retired as senior chief, and then transitioned into private life as a personal aide”.

Trump accused the government of “trying to destroy” Nauta’s life.

Former White House attorney Ty Cobb told the Associated Press last month that he feels sorry for Nauta, whom he described as a dutiful worker who “nods and then does what he’s been told to do”.

Nauta’s aunt Elly told the Post that her nephew had relayed to the family that he was merely following instructions when he moved the boxes at Mar-a-Lago.

“He told his mom there’s nothing to worry about. He didn’t do anything wrong. All he was instructed [to do] was to put the boxes where they were supposed to go,” she said.

Source: The Guardian