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WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump’s co-defendant in a just-unsealed federal indictment was an active-duty Navy sailor when prosecutors say he moved highly classified national security documents to Mar-a-Lago at the 45th president’s request, The Post has learned.
Now-retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Waltine Nauta was the only other person a Florida grand jury indicted alongside Trump, 76, following a special counsel investigation and FBI raid that revealed the former president kept hundreds of sensitive documents at his palatial Palm Beach estate.
Trump faces 37 counts, while Nauta faces six – conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding documents, “corruptly concealing a document or record,” “concealing a document in a federal investigation,” scheming to conceal documents and “false statements and representations.”
Here’s more about the Navy veteran accused of helping Trump illegally stash away hundreds of highly classified papers:
Nauta was a Navy cook
Nauta had served in the Navy for more than a decade when he was tapped in 2012 to work at the White House’s presidential food service command, according to his service record.
He continued his service there throughout then-President Barack Obama’s second term in office and stayed through the entirety of Trump’s term as well.
He began his Navy service in 2001, completing boot camp just two weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks.
He went on to serve at Navy bases in California and Georgia, as well as aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy and frigate USS Taylor.
By the time of Nauta’s retirement, he’d received numerous service-related awards and commendations, including five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals and seven good conduct medals.
He worked as Trump’s personal assistant
As president, Trump had the authority to use military members assigned to Nauta’s position as he saw fit.
Though Nauta was technically a “senior chief culinary specialist” at the White House, according to his record, the indictment lists him as a White House “valet” during the Trump administration.
Presidential valets have their origins in the days when US presidents would bring slaves, servants and butlers with them to Washington, according to the White House Historical Society. Modern valets are tasked with a myriad of assignments, ranging from the menial to the esteemed.
Nauta reportedly delivered Trump’s beloved Diet Cokes, served his meals and stood outside the Oval Office when the president hosted important meetings.
He was one of Trump’s two “office valets,” one of whom exposed him to the coronavirus early in the pandemic.
That valet was never publicly named.
He was active-duty when Trump moved out
Nauta retired as a senior chief petty officer – the second-highest rank an enlisted Navy member can hold – on Sept. 30, 2021, meaning he was on active duty when Trump first had the boxes of classified documents moved to Florida.
None of Nauta’s charges are related to his time in the military, though he allegedly helped pack “items, including some of Trump’s boxes” along with other White House staff in January 2021 as the 45th president prepared to leave office.
Nauta also helped move boxes temporarily stashed in Mar-a-Lago’s “white and gold ballroom” to the club’s business center in March 2021, while he was still in the Navy.
The charges instead stem from Nauta’s alleged actions after he left the military to serve as a civilian “executive assistant” to Trump at Mar-a-Lago.
Prosecutors claimed hat he knowingly helped move and hide boxes of classified documents subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.
He knew Trump had secret documents at Mar-a-Lago
Though Nauta’s charges are related to his later actions, he had known since at least Dec. 7, 2021 that Trump had sensitive documents at his Florida Golf Club, according to the indictment.
On that day, Nauta “found several of Trump’s boxes fallen and their contents spilled onto the floor” of a storage room and texted a photo of splayed-out records marked “CONFIDENTIAL” to a fellow Trump employee, according to prosecutors.
“I opened the door and found this,” his text read.
Nauta and an unnamed Trump employee also shuffled some of the boxes from the storage room “to Trump’s residence for Trump to review” between November 2021 and January 2022, according to the indictment.
He’s accused of lying to the FBI
In a May 2022 interview with FBI agents investigating the document matter, Nauta denied knowing that Trump had some of the boxes moved to his residence for review before 15 of them were turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration that January, according to the indictment.
In reality, prosecutors say, Nauta had moved the documents himself and later delivered them to a commercial truck for delivery to NARA on Jan. 17, 2022.
When asked whether he knew where Trump’s boxes had been stored before the residence and “where they had been in a secure or locked location” as required, “Nauta falsely responded, ‘I wish I could tell you … I honestly just don’t know,” according to the indictment.
Investigators say that Trump kept hundreds more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago despite attesting that he had turned over all of them.
He hid classified documents subpoenaed by a grand jury
A grand jury subpoenaed Trump’s office on May 11, 2022 for “all documents with classification markings” kept by the former president.
In the following weeks, Nauta allegedly moved 64 boxes of documents from the storage room to other locations, despite knowing they were sought in court, then moved around 30 back into the storage room.
Neither Nauta nor Trump had told the former president’s attorney of the scheme, according to the indictment.
On June 2, 2022, the attorney went to Mar-a-Lago to search for documents to send to the grand jury, locating just 38 left in the storage room out of the hundreds still hidden elsewhere at the estate.