Trump’s valet admitted they chose ‘at random’ which boxes of classified documents to return

Mar-a-Lago valet describes turbulent disorganisation in final days of Trump presidency

John Bowden
Washington DC
Tuesday 07 May 2024 17:44 BST
Bill Barr says ‘no excuse’ for Trump’s actions over classified documents

New unsealed court documents in the Florida case against Donald Trumpthis week reveal the extent of the involvement of Walt Nauta, Trump’s valet, in the storage and handling of classified documents found at the Mar-a-Lago resort and estate in Palm Beach.

The new documents reveal some of Nauta’s answers to questions from FBI agents investigating the case.

Referring to the effort by the National Archives to obtain some classified documents during Trump’s chaotic move-out process after January 6th, Nauta told investigators: “What I recall is every time he would leave for the evening, they would come up, and they would collect all the papers that he threw on the floor; or that – at the time – we understood that he didn’t need any more.”

Valet Walt Nauta hands former Donald Trump an umbrella before he speaks at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in 2023
Valet Walt Nauta hands former Donald Trump an umbrella before he speaks at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in 2023 (AP)

Nauta provides a rare look into the jumbled and hasty exit Trump made from the White House in 2021, after weeks and even months of partial and sometimes outright refusal to work with the Biden transition team.

As Trump was consumed by his efforts to overturn the election based on false conspiracy theories, Nauta’s testimony makes clear that the former president’s aides and departing staff were left with little oversight or support for their work to complete transition duties.

As a former Navy cook working as a valet at a resort, Nauta is an unusual person to have become central to an investigation into a president.

The filings also hint at the turbulent mindset of the former president during those days, which may be used by prosecutors to explain why he allegedly retained classified materials for his personal collection instead of turning them over to federal authorities.

It remains unclear when Trump’s trial in Florida will actually begin. In New York, however, his hush money trial has continued apace.

On Tuesday, the trial is set to reach a new milestone with the expected testimony of Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who alleges that she had an affair with the former president, which he denies.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the judge overseeing the case handed the former president’s team more time on Monday. Judge Aileen Cannon just removed a deadline for his team to submit a key filing, which was originally set for this coming Thursday. That key filing was a list of classified materials they plan to present as evidence at trial.

This is a win for Trump in the political sense, as it makes it unlikely that he will go on trial for mishandling classified materials before the November presidential election.

Trump’s team has pursued a strategy of pushing back deadlines and slow-walking the various legal cases he finds himself involved in. Every delay should be an advantage to the former president.

Yet at the same time, Trump continues to complain publicly about being tied up in court in order to fire up his base. The four criminal prosecutions he currently faces feed into a victimhood mentality that helped him steamroll his opponents in the 2024 Republican primary, as Republican voters bought into his claims of being unfairly targeted by the legal system.

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