By Jack Queen
(Reuters) -Donald Trump aide Walt Nauta pleaded not guilty at a Miami federal courthouse on Thursday to charges he helped the former U.S. president hide top secret documents that Trump took when he left the White House in 2021.
Nauta smiled at reporters but said nothing on his arrival at the court before his arraignment. His lawyer entered the plea.
Nauta made his initial appearance alongside Trump on June 13 but was not arraigned for lack of a lawyer licensed to practice in Florida. His arraignment was postponed a second time in late June for the same reason.
Trump, front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts for allegedly retaining national security documents without authorization and obstructing justice.
Nauta, a former White House valet and now a Trump aide, faces six counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, false statements, and withholding and concealing documents.
Prosecutors allege Nauta hid boxes of documents from Trump’s lawyers who were searching for classified material sought by the U.S. Justice Department. He also is accused of lying to investigators during a voluntary interview.
Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to delay the trial until Dec. 11. She had set an initial trial date of Aug. 14.
Trump is the first U.S. president past or present to face criminal charges in both federal and state courts.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, in charge of the prosecution, accuses Trump of risking national secrets by taking thousands of sensitive papers with him when he left the White House in January 2021 and storing them in a haphazard manner at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and his New Jersey golf club.
In addition to the documents case, Trump is charged in New York with allegedly falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign. He pleaded not guilty also in that case.
Trump denies wrongdoing and says the investigations are part of a political plot against him.
Cannon has set a July 14 hearing over how classified information in the case will be handled. Legal experts have said the complexities surrounding the use of highly classified documents as evidence are likely to delay Trump’s trial.
(Reporting by Jack Queen in Miami; Additional reporting by Jacqueline Thomsen; Editing by Amy Stevens and Howard Goller)
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