Judge Rejects Trump Codefendant Motion to Dismiss Classified Documents Case

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
July 7, 2024Courts
Judge Rejects Trump Codefendant Motion to Dismiss Classified Documents Case
Walt Nauta (L), an aide to former President Donald Trump, walks with his lawyer Stanley Woodward (R) as they leave the Alto Lee Adams Sr United States Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., on May 22, 2024. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on July 6 rejected a motion to dismiss the classified documents case special counsel Jack Smith is prosecuting.

Walt Nauta, valet of former President Trump, was charged alongside the former president last year for allegedly obstructing law enforcement regarding classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Mr. Nauta moved to dismiss the case based on selective and vindictive prosecution—a motion also separately raised by former President Trump.

Such a motion requires the defendant to show that “similarly situated individuals were not prosecuted” and the prosecution was “motivated by a discriminatory purpose.”

“Neither prong is satisfied here,” Judge Cannon wrote.

The judge found that Mr. Nauta failed to identify a similar case, and did not show that he was indicted based on a discriminatory purpose.

The judge has not yet ruled on former President Trump’s motion to dismiss; he argued that other high ranking officials, including former presidents, were found to have retained classified information without facing prosecution. Mr. Nauta had adopted former President Trump’s motion as well, but the judge ruled Mr. Nauta’s situation is not like that of the former officials.

Grand Jury Issues

Mr. Nauta’s defense relied heavily on allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, and he had argued that he was indicted for declining to testify before a grand jury a second time because he raised his Fifth Amendment rights. He had already given a voluntary interview to the FBI and appeared before the grand jury once.

The judge noted that Mr. Nauta did not expressly invoke his Fifth Amendment right, as there is a difference between simply declining to appear after a target letter and stating that he has done so because he is invoking the Fifth Amendment. The protection against self-incrimination has to be invoked, the judge explained by quoting legal precedent.

Judge Cannon found that even if Mr. Nauta did invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, he did not provide any evidence to show that “charges were brought to punish him for doing so.”

Mr. Nauta’s attorney Stanley Woodward had also argued that prosecutors had acted with prejudice against him, alleging prosecutor Jay Bratt “attempted to coerce Mr. Nauta’s compliance with the investigation” by implying Mr. Woodward’s chances at a judgeship relied on it. Prosecutors vehemently denied this at a meeting, with attorney David Harbach yelling protests at such volume that the judge warned him about decorum.

Judge Cannon wrote that both sides presented competing narratives and she is not siding with either side, as animus toward an attorney would not, in any case, constitute evidence of vindictive prosecution of a defendant.

Trump attorneys have alleged prosecutorial misconduct during grand jury proceedings as well, arguing that his attorney-client privilege was breached.

Delay After Supreme Court Ruling

On July 6, the judge also separately granted former President Trump’s motion to allow extra time in the schedule so that parties could argue on the recent Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity and what it means for this case.

The judge has paused a number of upcoming deadlines through July 18 to make time for prosecutors to file a response, but no other deadlines have been impacted.

From The Epoch Times