Miami, Jul 6 (AP) Donald Trump's valet faced arraignment Thursday, accused of helping the former president hide classified documents from federal authorities.

Walt Nauta smiled at reporters but didn't say anything as he arrived for the proceedings.

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Nauta was charged alongside Trump in June in a 38-count indictment alleging the mishandling of classified documents. He was being arraigned before a federal magistrate in Miami, where a not guilty plea was expected.

That was to have happened twice before, but he has struggled to retain a lawyer licensed in Florida and one appearance was postponed because of his travel troubles.

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Ahead of his arraignment, Nauta hired Sasha Dadan, a criminal defence attorney and former public defender whose main law office is in Fort Pierce, where the judge who would be handling the trial is based, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the court appearance.

Trump pleaded not guilty during his June 13 arraignment to charges including willful retention of national defense information. But Nauta's arraignment was postponed that day because of the lawyer situation and then was pushed back again last week when a flight from New Jersey he was to have taken was cancelled.

The indictment filed by special counsel Jack Smith and his team of prosecutors accuses Nauta of conspiring with Trump to conceal records that the former president had taken with him from the White House after his term ended in January 2021.

Prosecutors allege that Nauta, at the former president's direction, moved boxes of documents bearing classification markings so they would not be found by a Trump lawyer who was tasked with searching the home for classified records to be returned to the government.

That, prosecutors said, resulted in a false claim to the Justice Department that a “diligent search” for classified documents had been done and that all documents responsive to a subpoena had been returned.

Nauta is a Navy veteran who fetched Trump's Diet Cokes as his valet at the White House before joining him as a personal aide at Mar-a-Lago. He is regularly by Trump's side, including travelling in Trump's motorcade to the Miami courthouse for their appearance earlier this month and accompanying him afterward to a stop at the city's famed Cuban restaurant Versailles, where he helped usher supporters eager to take selfies with the former president. (AP)

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