In every Trump scandal, there is a Trump lackey. Every one of them has served as a proxy for the biggest lackey of them all: the Republican Party.
The newest lackey is Walt Nauta, Donald Trump’s “body man,” who was indicted last week, along with his boss, in the classified documents criminal case.
But he is just the latest in a long line of lackeys who have faced ruin, thanks to their close ties to Trump. Some are low-level employees like Nauta, while others are well-paid professionals, like attorney Michael Cohen or former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, both of whom ended up in prison as a result of their loyalty.
The Republican Party today is dominated by weak personalities, easily swayed by Trump’s demagoguery and eager to be told what to do by an autocrat.
What they all have in common is that they have weak personalities and were easily seduced by Trump into doing his bidding, even when they knew that what he was asking them to do was immoral or illegal, or both.
Trump is a predator: He hunts for people he can convince to commit crimes — and then do jail time — on his behalf. Then he moves on, leaving the wreckage of their lives behind.
But each Trump lackey is a stand-in for the entire GOP, which has surrendered its soul to Donald Trump. The Republican Party today is dominated by insipid personalities easily swayed by Trump’s demagoguery and eager to be told what to do by an autocrat.
Among the weakest are the other Republican candidates who are supposedly running for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination. They are now acting like the enablers of an alcoholic; since Trump’s indictment in the classified documents case was announced last Friday, almost all of them have been eagerly defending Trump, insisting that he is the victim of a partisan political witch hunt. With every pro-Trump statement, they are increasing the likelihood that he will defeat them for the nomination next year. They are wallowing in their own political masochism.
Republican presidential candidates are now acting like the enablers of an alcoholic.
Of course, the insurrectionist mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in order to try to keep Trump in power was just one giant group of Trump lackeys. More than a thousand of them have already faced arrest and prosecution, while Trump has not yet faced justice for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Few Trump lackeys have woken up in time to save themselves by flipping and testifying against him.
Will Walt Nauta wake up? That’s one of the big unanswered questions in the classified documents case. Special counsel Jack Smith clearly decided to charge Nauta in order to pressure him to cut a deal. If Nauta were to testify against Trump, who will make his first court appearance in the case on Tuesday, the government’s case would probably become a slam dunk.
The 40-year-old Nauta is the classic Trump lackey: someone who allowed his entire identity to get wrapped up in his proximity to Donald Trump.
While in the Navy, Nauta served in the White House cafeteria and later as a military valet for Trump. He caught Trump’s eye and left the Navy to work as his body man after he left office. Nauta became a constant presence by Trump’s side; the indictment in the classified documents case summed up Nauta’s role in Trump’s post-presidential world in one sentence: “Nauta reported to Trump, worked closely with Trump, and traveled with Trump.”
Nauta appears to have been involved from the very beginning in Trump’s efforts to steal and hide classified documents on his way out of the White House. As Trump was leaving office in January 2021, Nauta was one of the people who helped box things up for him and move documents from the White House to his home at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Nauta and other Trump staffers initially stored them on the stage in a Mar-a-Lago ballroom, and Nauta later helped move the boxes to the business center at the club.
Nauta knew from the start just how important Trump considered the documents he was keeping at Mar-a-Lago. When one employee wanted to move the boxes so that the business center could be freed up for other uses, another employee texted a warning: “Whoa!! Ok so potus specifically asked Walt for those boxes to be in the business center because they are his ‘papers,’” according to the indictment in the classified documents case. Proof that Nauta knew that Trump was hiding classified documents came on December 7, 2021, according to the indictment. That’s when Nauta found that several boxes being kept in a Mar-a-Lago storage room had fallen and that their contents had spilled out, including a document marked “SECRET/REL TO USA FVEY.” Those markings showed that the document was classified, and that it was only supposed to be distributed within the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Nauta took photos of the spilled documents and texted the photos to another Trump employee, thus providing evidence later obtained by prosecutors that he knew there were classified documents included in Trump’s stored boxes.
Nauta only got into legal trouble in the classified documents case when he lied to the FBI about moving boxes filled with documents at Trump’s request, when Trump was trying to hide the documents from the government. Trump was playing a stupid game of hide and seek, moving the documents from one room to another in Mar-a-Lago, and Nauta was the stooge who followed Trump’s orders and kept moving the boxes for him. Between May 23 and June 2, 2022, Nauta moved 64 boxes from the Mar-a-Lago storage room and took them to Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago so that Trump could go through them and find the documents he wanted to keep and hide, according to the indictment. By that time, Trump had already been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury demanding that he return all of the classified documents that he still held. Instead of complying with the subpoena, Trump ordered Nauta to start moving the boxes from the storage room up to the residence. Nauta began moving the boxes up to the residence on the same day that Trump met with his lawyers to discuss the subpoena.
The FBI gave Nauta an opportunity to answer easy questions to avoid legal jeopardy, but he didn’t take it. The FBI asked Nauta if he was “aware of any boxes being brought to [Trump’s] home — his suite” at Mar-a-Lago. Nauta said no. He was then asked whether you have any information that could — that would — that could help us understand, like, where they were kept, how were they kept, were they secured, were they locked?”
“I wish, I wish I could tell you,” Nauta lied. “I don’t know. I honestly just don’t know.”
With his lies to the FBI, Nauta’s status as a Trump lackey was complete.