Not ignored, but certainly overshadowed in yesterday’s (and today’s) news is the latest stanza in the “Ballad Of Walt Nauta.”
He still hasn’t been arraigned! (You can read details here)
The night before Nauta’s new lawyer and ole Walt were supposed to appear in court so Nauta could be arraigned Trump balked at the lawyer’s financial demands. If Nauta has a lick of awareness and self-preservation that has to have him questioning Trump’s promises that he (Trump) will look after him if he “does what he’s told.” Which as we know means cover up and outright lie for Trump. That’s what Trump wants, expects, DEMANDS of Nauta and everyone knows it. The question is if this refusal on Trump’s part both earlier in the month and now this week to hire him a lawyer that can actually defend him down in FL, even if only for one day at an arraignment has caused Nauta to re-evaluate things.
To refresh everyone’s memory during Trump’s arraignment in Miami earlier this month there was a second defendant at the table with him. It was his aide Walt Nauta. Nauta was a career Navy guy who got a plum assignment as a steward at the White House. Somewhere along the line he caught Trump’s eye, and wound up becoming quite a bit more. He became Trump’s “body man” – a ubiquitous assistant Presidents have who’s always hovering nearby. To help usher people in and out of their boss’s presence. To fetch documents/papers when needed during meetings and whisk them away. Help the boss with all manner of tiny details in the course of the day. Even in Nauta’s case fetching a Diet Coke for Trump (and maybe others) or other snacks and drinks for others during meetings in which Trump was in a good mood. Running up to the residence and fetching a fresh tie or shirt when Trump spilled food on himself. You get the idea.
It’s actually a serious job when the occupant of the Oval Office is a serious person. If you ever watched West Wing, Nauta was Trump’s “Charlie.” Only not nearly as smart & capable, and not performing serious tasks like the fictional Charlie did. But like Charlie, Nauta was always there, near the boss or outside the door. And when Trump sulked off to FL, Nauta followed him down and continued working for Trump, rounding out his twenty years of military service before continuing as a privately paid employee. Years of being right there, one of those “little people” Trump and others come to ignore.
But in those years he saw and heard all manner of stuff. And handled all manner of documents including we can be sure classified ones. His moving boxes containing them around is why he’d under indictment for chrissakes! However, he has been completely loyal to Trump. Seemingly willing to go to prison for the boss. Of course, he might be so over juiced with Trump-Orange Kook Aide he thinks Trump will be President again and will pardon him. Who knows with this guy.
But here’s the thing. The day Trump was formally arraigned Nauta was NOT. Various legal jurisdictions have their quirks and the Southern District of FL has a doozy. Normally in court, state or federal an attorney merely has to be a member (in good standing – we are after all talking about Trump World here) of the Bar in the state where charges are brought to represent someone. Well, that’s simply not good enough down there in federal court in Miami! Nope, attorneys there, even for something as pro forma simple as an arraignment have to be certified as having been admitted to practice law in the Southern District of Florida!
If you recall there was a scramble on Trump’s behalf, and it appeared until that day that even Trump’s arraignment might have to be postponed. That he’d be formally arrested and booked/processed and come back on a later date. Well, Trump managed to find someone that could represent him and his arraignment went forward as planned. Nauta? Nope. Like so many others Nauta has been using lawyers hired by Trump, and he faced the same problem Trump did. Only Trump couldn’t be bothered to hire someone to even for a day show up and represent Nauta for arraignment. That meant Nauta would have to go back.
I wrote about this at the time suggesting it offered a tantalizing possibility. Nauta might find himself on a flight down to Miami (coach of course!) by himself, or only with a single Trump paid for lawyer accompanying him. He might find himself unsupervised for a while and boy could that open up some intriguing possibilities! What it some people recognized him and started talking about him within earshot? Saying things like he was nuts for relying on a Trump paid lawyer who would have Trump’s interests front and center instead of his own?
You know damn well Trump watched J6 hearings and coverage of them. He saw all too well what happened with witnesses, most notably Cassidy Hutchinson did – realizing their Trump lawyer was not just being paid by Trump but working to protect Trump instead of people NOT Trump. Went out and despite the cost hired competent legal representation that worked for them and their interests without regard for any damage it might do to Trump. I don’t know how articulate and poised Nauta is (I’d assume that the Navy taught him to be the latter at least) but if you thought Hutchinson did a number on Trump and others, Nauta could make her look like a rank amateur.
So why am I carrying on about all this? Trump’s legendary cheapness could wind up biting him in his big, fat orange butt. As I said, I refuse to believe Trump’s lawyers couldn’t have found someone in Miami who, for say ten grand wouldn’t have been willing to stand with Nauta while Trump was arraigned, “file an appearance” as Nauta’s attorney and when asked if he’d continue to represent Nauta tell the judge “We have yet to work out the details of a long-term agreement” and that would have been that. No need to let Nauta out of Trump World with no, or minimal supervision.
Since Nauta didn’t have local counsel and a postponement would be sought he wasn’t required to be in court yesterday. Supposedly flight cancellations were a factor too. (I wouldn’t expect Trump’s plane but surely they could have gotten him a ride on someone’s private jet!) But if wound up not releasing Nauta into Non-Trump World yesterday, come July 6 he’ll have to do so. it was unusual for the judge to agree to the postponement as a Magistrate/Judge has the ability to appoint counsel in such situations. My guess is that Nauta’s lead attorney got an off the record “Have his a$$ in court next time and I’ll have someone from the public defenders office on hand for the arraignment if he doesn’t have local counsel by then. And if you’re going to try more delay crop I’ll issue a bench warrant and Federal Marshals can pick him up & he can show up in handcuffs!” That’s the last think Woodward would want to happen as it would almost certainly push Nauta to go out and hire his own, not beholden to Trump lawyer.
But the issue is that this little fiasco (maybe not so little) sets Trump up for some real legal peril. It’s in the news it was about money. Nauta knows Trump had someone agree to handle his defense, and when that attorney wanted more money (or unless I miss my guess money upfront in a nice, fat retainer) Trump balked at the last minute. So the whole thing is delayed again. And this is where it might get interesting. Nauta spends most of his waking time around Trump but not all of it. And in that time where he’s on his own, he might start thinking about say Cassidy Hutchinson and others who came to the realization using lawyers Trump hired for them wouldn’t end well.
Nauta could get himself one hell of a sweetheart deal, maybe even full immunity in exchange for spilling all. Hell, a good attorney from a respected firm might convince the partners to represent Nauta pro bono! Or at least at a vastly discounted rate. Trump’s being so dismissive of Nauta’s legal needs might be the proverbial slap in the face needed to make Nauta awaken from his Trump stupor. And take a cold, hard look at his situation and think of people he’s watched Trump throw under the bus. Even laughing as he did so and for days afterwards.
Nauta might, just might be starting to think that any lawyer paid for by Trump will only care about Trump and the second Trump says to toss Nauta under the bus will do so.
Ok, maybe I’ve crossed into fantasy land. It wouldn’t be the first time. But you have to admit it’s an interesting scenario to contemplate.