Trump attorneys have dropped the documents case and a former Trump adviser faces charges

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) – Two lawyers defending Donald Trump on federal charges of illegally storing confidential documents dropped the case on Friday, and a day after the former US president was indicted, a former adviser was also surprisingly named charged.

Trump said on his Truth Social platform that his former military servant Walt Nauta had been charged in the case. Nauta worked at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort after working at the Trump White House. It was unclear what he was accused of.

Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, declined to comment. A spokesman for Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the prosecution, was not immediately available.

Nauta “proudly served with me in the White House, retired as senior chief, and then transitioned into private life as a personal advisor,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

In a previous post, Trump said he would be represented in the case by corporate defense attorney Todd Blanche, who is representing him in a separate criminal trial in Manhattan.

Trump made the announcement after his attorneys, John Rowley and Jim Trusty, dropped the case for reasons not immediately clear.

“This morning we tendered our resignations as advisers to President Trump,” the two attorneys said in a statement. “It was an honor to have spent the last year defending him and we know he will be rehabilitated.”

Trump is facing seven criminal charges related to the handling of sensitive government materials he took with him when he left the White House in January 2021, according to a source familiar with the matter.

He is scheduled to appear in court in Florida on Tuesday, one day before his 77th birthday.

The indictment of a former US president on federal charges is unprecedented in American history and comes at a time when Trump is the front runner for next year’s Republican presidential nomination.

The case does not prevent Trump from campaigning or taking office if he wins the November 2024 presidential election. Legal experts say there is no reason to prevent his swearing in even if he is convicted and sent to prison.

Investigators seized around 13,000 documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, nearly a year ago. One hundred were marked as confidential, although one of Trump’s lawyers previously said all records with secret markings had been returned to the government.

“I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!” Trump wrote on his platform Truth Social on Thursday after announcing that charges had been brought against him.

Trump previously said he released those documents as president, but his attorneys declined to make that argument in the court filings.

CNN reported Friday that after leaving office, Trump said he had withheld military information that he had not released. These audio-recorded comments could be an important piece of evidence in this case.

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire, the United States, April 27, 2023. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

According to a separate source briefed on the matter, US District Judge Aileen Cannon was initially assigned to oversee the case. She could also lead the process, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2019, made headlines last year when she chose the former US president at a crucial stage in the case and was later overturned on appeal.

Cannon would determine, among other things, when a trial would take place and what the penalty would be for Trump if he was found guilty.

Trusty told CNN on Thursday that the charges include conspiracy, false testimony, obstruction of justice and illegal keeping of classified documents under the Espionage Act.

It is the second criminal case for Trump, who is facing trial in New York next March for having paid hush money to a porn star.

If he wins the presidency again, Trump, as head of the federal government, would be able to derail the federal case, but not the state case in New York.


According to Reuters/Ipsos polls, Trump’s legal troubles have not diminished his popularity with Republican voters. His main Republican rivals have so far backed him, criticizing the case as politically motivated.

President from 2017 to 2021, Trump has so far managed to weather controversies that could torpedo other politicians. He describes himself as a victim of a witch hunt and accuses the Justice Department of being biased.

Special Counsel Smith, who is leading the investigation, is leading a second criminal probe into efforts by Trump and his allies to redeem his 2020 election defeat by Democratic President Joe Biden.

Smith has been granted a degree of independence from the Justice Department’s leadership to pursue the politically sensitive cases.

President Joe Biden, like everyone else, learned about the indictment and had no prior knowledge of it, the White House said on Friday.

Trump also faces a separate criminal investigation in Georgia related to efforts to redeem his loss to Biden in that state.

Smith convened grand juries in both Washington and Miami to hear evidence, but has opted to try the case in the politically contested state of Florida rather than the US capital, where any jury would likely be heavily Democratic.

Under federal law, defendants have the right to be charged where the activity in question took place. According to legal experts, a prosecution in Florida could prevent a lengthy legal battle by Trump’s team over the correct place of jurisdiction.

The Republican nomination contest for state presidents begins early next year, and the party is expected to select its nominee for the November 2024 election in July of that year.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, additional reporting by Jack Queen; writing by Andy Sullivan; Edited by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Sarah N Lynch

Thomson Reuters

Sarah N. Lynch is Reuters’ principal reporter, covering the US Department of Justice from Washington, DC. During her tenure, she has covered everything from the Mueller Report to the use of federal agents to quell protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the rampant spread of COVID-19 in prisons, and the Department’s law enforcement efforts following the attack on the US Capitol 6th January.