Following the news and “instant analysis” after the arraignment today I heard some things that didn’t quite come together in my mind until a few minutes ago.  Watching accounts of court proceedings from reporters actually in the room was certainly interesting.  Lisa Rubin was particularly interesting to listen to on multiple MSNBC programs as the afternoon turned into the evening.  Ken Dilanian also was in the room but we heard more from Ms. Rubin.

One thing she talked about with various hosts and panelists was both the unusual order from the judge that since Nauta’s livelihood was working for Trump and closely every day that he wouldn’t force Nauta to quit.  Ordinarily co-defendants can’t talk to each other except through lawyers (in some instances) at all.  Nauta got an exception but everyone on Team Trump, Nauta and Trump in particular were warned they could not discuss anything at all about the case.  If the situation weren’t so serious it would be laughable.  OF COURSE they will talk about the case.  Every damned day, including lots of Trump saying stay loyal and “I’ll take care of you” and Nauta promising he will.

So that was interesting but another point Rubin emphasized was the interactions at the defense table.  Trump’s lawyer spoke both with Nauta’s Trump paid for lawyer and Nauta, but also with only Nauta!  That clearly struck her, and I admit to thinking it was strange too.  That simply doesn’t happen in court – one or more of one defendant’s lawyers talking directly to another defendant.  I think we know what was said – Nauta was told to sit there and “go with the flow.”  I rather doubt an “or else” needed to be said.  Again, the lawyer that showed up with Nauta is being paid by Trump.  Canon of Ethics be damned we all know that while he’ll do what he can for Nauta he knows who’s paying him and his primary interest will be protecting Trump, up to and including allowing his client Nauta to be run over by the bus.

That too was pretty interesting to be sure.  However, something else was noted.  And it could turn out to be huge.  In multiple reports it was noted Nauta flew down to Miami with Trump, and rode to the courthouse with him.  Also, when things were done and after Trump made a point of turning around and glaring at all the journalists crowded into the room (it’s apparently a pretty small courtroom) his Secret Service detail formed around him to escort him out.  AND that Nauta instantly switched from co-defendant to “body man”, trailing dutifully behind Trump.  There’s been much discussion both at the time and since that Nauta shows no signs of flipping and becoming a cooperating witness.  It was suggested with his walk out of the courtroom, his switch back to Trump employee was both instantaneous and evident – and that he was still firmly part of Team Trump.

However, something else was noted.  Nauta himself wasn’t arraigned today!

The southern District of Florida it seems doesn’t stop with requiring someone who’s a member of the FL Bar to represent someone in court.  They also require lawyers to be certified to practice in that specific jurisdiction!  That was an issue for Trump and I speculated yesterday Trump might try to delay arraignment by not hiring someone with the right credential to show up on his behalf today.  Well he did. (Because he found out that judge Cannon wouldn’t preside and that the judge who did would slap him around some?)

However what’s important is he didn’t hire someone for Nauta!

We all know Trump is a cheap bastard but maybe, just maybe this will cost him and “bigly.”  Without local counsel Nauta could be “booked” but not arraigned today and will have to go back down there to formally enter a plea.  His trip won’t be on Trump Force One either, but rather the cheapest commercial flight they can book.  After enjoying plush, comfy plane rides for years being crammed into the too small seats airlines have become infamous for will be a shock to Nauta’s system.  And might be his first tangible warning of where he truly stands with the boss.  His treatment at court won’t be quite so deferential either.  He might well find himself sitting in some uncomfortable seat with a bunch of other defendants waiting (impatiently) until his case is called up!  Another warning that might register with him.

With some time to think about it I think it’s clear Trump kept Nauta right there the whole day to keep firm control.   Trump also could have found some working stiff with the right credential to show up, file an appearance on Nauta’s behalf, plead him not guilty and when asked if he’d be continuing say “We are discussing the details of a longer term arrangement” and that would be that.  A few thousand extra bucks.  Hell, something similar might have been worked out for days where motions will be fought – the “local counsel” being in court and saying “Your honor, my colleague (The lawyer for Nauta Trump already retained and who knows everything) will handle things” and again that would be that.  Nauta would stay safely in the cocoon.

However Trump is as we know a cheap bastard.  They probably tried to get someone for a few hundred bucks for today and got told to go pound sand.  With no local counsel Nauta couldn’t be arraigned and will have to go back.  But even with a “minder”, be it the lawyer Trump already got for him or someone else it won’t be the cocoon of protection that existed today.  Nauta will likely get a lesson or two in reality.  He’s been Trump’s body man plenty long enough to know how quickly Trump will throw people with a lot more juice than HIM under the bus.

Who knows?  At some eatery, or at the airport he might find himself alone without “supervision” for a little while.  Perhaps overhear a couple of people talking about the case and him and him having counsel paid for by Trump – who’s first loyalty will be to Trump and that it hasn’t worked out well for others.  Vs. say that Cassidy Hutchinson who went out and got a decent lawyer on her own and has come out of the whole mess smelling like a rose.  And in no danger of being what he is which is under indictment for multiple federal felonies!  (and, hint hint to if not Jack Smith’s people then some Democrat with deep pockets” pairs of people can be at the ready in several places to follow Nauta and have a slightly too loud conversation…

That’s why I’m thinking Trump’s stupidity, his cheapness could cost him so much down the road.  He could have and should have shelled out some cash to keep Walt Nauta loyal.  By having local counsel for Nauta present today,  He had the chance to make damned sure Nauta was kept in that same zone of deference he’s gotten and will continue to get.  Instead Nauta is going to get a dose of regular person treatment.  It might make the scales fall from his eyes, and decide to cut himself a deal with an attorney HE picks and who he knows will put HIS interests first.

Smith doesn’t really need Nauta to flip to convict Trump down in FL.  But Nauta could be solid gold in the January 6 case and not just as a witness against Trump.  How many others in the leadership of the Insurrection ‘brain” trust was Nauta in the room with as Trump talked about that awful event?  Before, during and after?  And don’t forget other separate parts of the strategy (fake electors for example) to prevent Biden from being sworn in?

Granted this is nothing but speculation.  But stick a post-it note up because it turn out to be something way more important than is being talked about right now.

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  1. Possibly the court will require Nauta to get independent counsel before he enters his plea. For the time being he just continues working as trump’s valet. But as proceedings move forward and he gets some good legal advice, he may plead guilty and flip on his employer. And absolutely, if he was a fly on the wall during the coup attempt, he could be solid platinum to Smith. Nauta’s lawyer could parlay that into full immunity and a quick exit into the witness protection program.

  2. It is important to remember there’s more indictments to come. Baby huey isn’t in the clear by a long shot.



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