On Friday Walt Nauta, an assistant who regularly travels with Donald Trump, became the second person indicted in an investigation of Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. This follows Trump’s earlier indictment on seven counts.
As with Trump, the number and nature of Nauta’s charges remain sealed. However, based on information from CNN, it’s a pretty good bet those charges include lying to the FBI. That’s because Nauta told FBI investigators that he hadn’t handled boxes in the storeroom at Mar-a-Lago, but “Investigators obtained surveillance footage showing Nauta and the worker moving boxes of the classified documents around the resort.”
Assuming that Nauta moved those boxes on direct orders from Trump, it also seems likely he could be at least one of those connected with Trump in what was reported to be a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The Department of Justice has scheduled an on-camera event for 3 PM ET, which will likely include an announcement concerning the charges against Trump and Nauta.
In October, Trump claimed that a flood caused by draining Mar-a-Lago’s pool had resulted in damage to servers and a loss of all the video of the resort’s security system. Investigators later found no evidence that this was the case, and had by then already extracted the video directly connected to Nauta’s indictment.
On June 2, 2022—one day before a scheduled meeting with DOJ and FBI officials, during which Trump’s attorneys handed over what they claimed was all the classified information found—the FBI conducted a search of the location. Nauta reportedly joined members of the Mar-a-Lago staff in moving some materials out of the storeroom where Trump had agreed to store information of interest to the National Archives. The Washington Post reported last month that one Mar-a-Lago worker had later asked questions about the function of the security cameras.
… the employee was questioned repeatedly by investigators after he was seen on video footage helping another Trump aide, Walt Nauta, move boxes into a Mar-a-Lago storage room on June 2, the day before a top Justice Department official arrived with FBI agents to collect classified material in response to the subpoena.
FBI investigators reportedly noticed the boxes in the storage room at the time, but were not allowed to open them. This, combined with the video showing Nauta supervising workers in removing some of the material, raised suspicions about the incident.
After investigators viewed the surveillance video, Nauta reportedly altered his earlier testimony. Since October, he has refused to speak to investigators.
Conspiracy to obstruct justice carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. False statements to the FBI bring a potential penalty of five years. However, if the DOJ believes that Nauta was aware he was moving classified material, he could also be subject to charges of gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information under the Espionage Act, as well as charges of conspiracy under that act.
Trump’s immediate response to Nauta’s indictment was to post a message on his media platform defending his assistant. However, it is easy to read this as an attempt to prevent Nauta from agreeing to provide testimony in exchange for avoiding the charges under the Espionage Act.
Rather than being arrested under warrant, Trump was given a summons to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon. It’s unclear if Nauta has the same deadline or is being handled in the same way.
We talk about the field of Republicans willing to go up against the MAGA monster that is Trump. It’s a veritable who cares of the Republican Party, but it is also indicative of the rot inside of the conservative world.