An aide closely associated with Donald Trump has entered a plea of not guilty to fresh federal charges.
The charges alleged that he had provided misleading information to investigators who were working to recover classified documents that were taken by the former president upon his departure from office.
Walt Nauta, Trump’s valet, stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shaniek Mills Maynard and entered his plea of not guilty to charges of obstructing justice and making false statements.
Accompanying him was another aide, Carlos De Oliveira, a property manager at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
However, De Oliveira refrained from entering a plea as his legal representation explained that he had not yet secured a local lawyer with the necessary state licensing.
After the court appearance, Nauta and De Oliveira chose not to engage with reporters. A small group of Trump supporters had congregated outside the courthouse to protest the case.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who is considered a frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination against incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden, has labeled the prosecution as politically motivated without substantiating evidence.
The charges against Nauta and De Oliveira were brought forth by Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team.
These charges center around allegations of collaboration with Trump to obstruct a year-long investigation related to his possession of classified documents, some of which were highly confidential.
Donald Trump himself faces 40 counts of unauthorized retention of national defense information, obstruction of justice, and false statements.
He had previously pleaded not guilty during an arraignment in June.
Prosecutors contend that Trump left the White House in 2021 with top-secret documents, storing them in an unsecured manner at his Mar-a-Lago property.
This included locations such as bathrooms, showers, and even a ballroom.
Additionally, he reportedly shared classified information with individuals not authorized to access it at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Nauta has been accused of moving boxes of documents within Mar-a-Lago to conceal them from Trump’s legal team and federal investigators.
Both Nauta and De Oliveira are charged with attempting to erase security camera footage and providing false information to the FBI.
This criminal case is one of several legal challenges Trump is currently facing.
As he campaigns for the 2024 presidential election, he is simultaneously contending with three other cases, including a potential fourth indictment in Georgia.
Nauta had already entered a not-guilty plea for certain charges related to the document case, but returned to court to address additional counts outlined in a revised indictment from July.
While Trump also entered not-guilty pleas for the new charges in a court filing, he did not appear in court on the specified date.
De Oliveira, added as a third defendant in the second indictment, is anticipated to enter his plea on August 15, once a local lawyer is secured.
Presently, it is not expected that De Oliveira will appear in court for the plea hearing.
While Trump promptly responded with not-guilty pleas, Nauta and De Oliveira faced delays in their responses due to challenges in securing legal representation licensed to practice in Florida.
In parallel to the ongoing case, Trump faces charges brought by Smith, alleging attempts to unlawfully overturn the 2020 election loss.
Additionally, Manhattan prosecutors have charged him with falsifying business records to conceal payments made to a porn star.
Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to the investigation concerning his election loss in Georgia.