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No Deal for Nauta: Trump’s Aide Refuses to Cooperate with Prosecutors

By Mara Lafontaine · July 6, 2023

In brief…

  • Trump aide Walt Nauta pleads not guilty to charges related to alleged mishandling of classified documents.
  • Defense attorney Michael Bauchner highlighted the seriousness of these charges in a Fox News interview.
  • Additional charges may arise from similar allegations in New Jersey.
  • More individuals could face charges, or make cooperation agreements, as a number of people reportedly had access to the documents.
  • Despite efforts, prosecutors were unable to secure Nauta's cooperation in the investigation.

White-collar criminal defense attorney Michael Bauchner shed light on the severity of the charges against former President Trump aide Waltine “Walt” Nauta. Nauta’s charges include obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information, which are linked to the alleged handling of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Michael Bauchner elaborated on the seriousness of the situation during a recent interview on Fox News. Bauchner explained, “The Espionage Act also just punishes people who retain documents that are confidential, that belong to the United States of America and haven’t returned them upon appropriate request.” 

Bauchner noted that Trump’s defense—that he was entitled to these documents because they were either his own or that he declassified them—will be challenging to argue, especially given a tape recording in which Trump apparently states that he is aware some of these documents are classified.

Bauchner also hinted at the possibility of further charges being brought in New Jersey based on allegations of similar obstructive conduct by Trump in relation to documents maintained at his Bedminster golf course. “The saga is certainly not over as far as this is concerned,” he said.

There is speculation that more charges will be leveled against others involved in this case, given the number of people who seemingly had access to the documents during the alleged mishandling. Bauchner noted that, “Generally speaking, prosecutors make cases by trying to cooperate lower level individuals going against the higher level individual… there probably are a number of people who have either already been charged or have been already been immunized…” 

In a recently unsealed affidavit in Florida, there is a reference to someone called “witness number five” moving boxes and documents. Mr. Bauchner says that there is an inference that this is Mr. Nada.  

Bauchner says that prosecutors made efforts to get Mr. Nauta to cooperate in exchange for leniency, but they were unsuccessful. “I understand that efforts were made by Jack Smith, the prosecutor, to have him cooperate in the investigation. Who knows what kind of deal he could have gotten. Perhaps he could have gotten immunized. Perhaps he could have gotten a non-prosecution agreement. But that apparently fell through.” Bauchner explains, “And this young man who is 40 years old, who seems like a stalwart trooper and a good guy in many ways,… now going to be wed to Mr. Trump’s hip. So whatever happens to Mr. Trump, I think will happen to Mr. Nauta.”