05/18/2024

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Donald Trump, Walt Nauta

‘We need to get you sweaty’: Valet co-defendant misled Trump about going on a jog before awkward interview with FBI on Mar-a-Lago, transcript reveals

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, center left, and son Eric Trump walk near the first hole during the final round of LIV Golf Miami, at Trump National Doral Golf Club, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Doral, Fla. Pictured in background center is valet Walt Nauta. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago co-defendant and valet Walt Nauta led the former president to believe he was out for a jog when, in fact, he was being interviewed by FBI special agents, a newly unsealed transcript of his voluntary May 26, 2022, sit-down revealed.

The transcript, which was filed Thursday with FBI interviewers’ names redacted two days after U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon reversed herself on naming government witnesses, began with the feds attempting to lighten the moods of Nauta and his lawyer with references to “How I Met Your Mother” and, a short time later, actor Steven Seagal’s film “Under Siege.”

Next, the agents probed why Nauta decided to work for Trump in the White House instead of re-enlisting, characterizing it as “An offer you [Nauta] couldn’t refuse,” possibly a reference to “The Godfather.”

“Yeah. It’s not often a former President calls you and say, hey you want to come work for me?” Nauta said, confirming he was a “culinary specialist.”

“I’ll be honest with — I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a product of my generation, but I was thinking maybe a Navy chef working for directly for the President, like is he really a Chef, because I kept thinking Under Siege,” Special Agent 1 said.

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    “I am,” Nauta answered. “I was. I — that’s the story I like to tell to people.”

    Nauta commented that he’d gone from scrambling eggs to working for Trump.

    Having reminded Nauta that lying to the FBI is a federal crime, the special agents started their questioning in earnest about boxes hauled out of the White House.

    “It was literally chaos,” Nauta said of the move.

    With jokes and light-hearted conversation out of the way, the feds expressed concern about “a discrepancy” between what witnesses have said and what Nauta wasn’t telling them about being in a Mar-a-Lago storage room.

    Nauta said that he was only aware of boxes carrying Trump’s personal items, like hairspray.

    “Yes. He is quite the hoarder with these particular items. Deodorant —,” Nauta said. “You know, multiple hairspray cans. That’s — yeah.”

    Then the interview got more uncomfortable, as agents sought answers that would make the intelligence community “feel a bit better” about how classified documents were stored.

    Nauta’s lawyer picked up on the agents accusing his client of “potentially lying” and pushed back on the line of questioning.

    Agents pressed Nauta on whether anyone other than his lawyer knew he was sitting for the FBI interview, including Trump.

    “No. As far as he knows, I’m out jogging,” Nauta said.

    “So we need to get your sweaty before you go back,” Special Agent 2 remarked.

    “No, I’m good,” Nauta replied.

    The agents didn’t stop harping on Nauta’s jogging story.

    “And we also know that we’re putting you in a tight spot, you know, that you;’re basically fitting us in on your run and that you’re lying to your boss, and we realize that’s uncomfortable,” Special Agent 2 said.

    “Well, I’m not lying to him. He’s just you know —” Nauta said.

    “Assuming,” Special Agent 1 interjected.

    “Well, you’re on a run, you’re on a run, so,” Special Agent 2 added.

    Nauta conceded Trump “assumes I’m on my run. Yeah,” seemingly suggesting that he normally goes out for a run and allowed his boss to believe that it was business as usual on May 26, 2022.

    The agents saw this as a distinction without a difference.

    Throughout the interview, Nauta came off as someone who is supposed to do everything he’s told while asking no questions. The FBI repeatedly told him that they were looking to recover classified information — and they appealed to Nauta’s Navy service when emphasizing that “[w]e’re talking about protecting our troops, protecting, your know, human assets” who put their lives at risk for the country.

    But as the indictment alleges, Nauta only continued following orders in the days and weeks after the FBI interview.

    Charged with a conspiracy to obstruct, making false statements to the FBI, and withholding documents, connected to an alleged scheme to delete Mar-a-Lago camera footage and to conceal boxes of classified documents from a grand jury, Nauta — with the aid of Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira — moved 30 boxes from Trump’s residence to a storage room on June 2, 2022, “the day that Trump Attorney 1 was scheduled to review Trump’s boxes in the Storage Room,” the indictment said.

    Trump allegedly spoke with Nauta on the phone hours before his co-defendants moved the boxes containing classified documents, the possession of which formed the basis of Espionage Act willful retention of national defense information charges against the former president.

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    According to the indictment, De Oliveira on June 25, 2022, allegedly told “Trump Employee 5” Brian Butler that Nauta was en route from Bedminster, N.J., to Mar-a-Lago and asked Butler not to tell anyone about the “secret” trip that related to surveillance camera footage.

    “DE OLIVEIRA also told Trump Employee 5 that NAUTA wanted DE OLIVEIRA to talk to Trump Employee 4 to see how long camera footage was stored,” the indictment continued. “Shortly after arriving in Palm Beach on the evening of June 25, NAUTA went to The Mar-a-Lago Club and met with DE OLIVEIRA at 5:46 p.m. At The Mar-a-Lago Club, NAUTA and DE OLIVEIRA went to the security guard booth where surveillance video is displayed on monitors, walked with a flashlight through the tunnel where the Storage Room was located, and observed and pointed out surveillance cameras.”

    Two days later, De Oliveira allegedly told another employee — “Trump Employee 4” — that “the boss” wanted the video footage server deleted.

    Read the partially redacted Nauta interview here.

    The post ‘We need to get you sweaty’: Valet co-defendant misled Trump about going on a jog before awkward interview with FBI on Mar-a-Lago, transcript reveals first appeared on Law & Crime.