Aug 3, 2023 - Politics & Policy

DOJ raises "divided loyalties" concerns about Mar-a-Lago defense attorney

Walt Nauta (left), a U.S. Navy veteran and a White House military valet to former President Trump, and his lawyer Stanley Woodward in Miami, Florida, last month. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategul T/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Special counsel Jack Smith on Wednesday requested a hearing to discuss whether a lawyer representing a co-defendant in former President Trump's classified documents case has a "conflict of interest."

Driving the news: Stanley Woodward, the lawyer for Trump valet Walt Nauta "has represented at least seven other individuals who have been questioned in connection with the investigation," per a Department of Justice court filing to Judge Aileen Cannon, who's overseeing the case.

  • The DOJ is particularly concerned that Woodward represents two other Trump employees as well as previously advising a third employee whom they told the lawyer they believe has information that could "incriminate" Nauta.
  • "All three of these witnesses may be witnesses for the government at trial, raising the possibility that Mr. Woodward might be in the position of cross-examining past or current clients," the filing states.
  • A hearing on the matter was "appropriate given that an attorney who cross-examines a former or present client inherently encounters divided loyalties," the DOJ argued.

The big picture: Trump, Nauta and Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira are charged in the classified documents case — one of three indictments the former president faces.

  • A superseding indictment filed last week alleges that Nauta and De Oliveira asked a Mar-a-Lago worker in summer 2022 to "delete security camera footage" at Trump's Florida residence to prevent the footage from being provided to a federal grand jury.
  • Both Trump, who's due to be arraigned on federal charges in the Jan. 6 indictment on Thursday, and Nauta have pleaded not guilty in the case. De Oliveira has yet to enter a plea.

What we're watching: Woodward has declined to comment on the DOJ's request, but the filing states that he "has indicated that as a general matter he does not oppose" his clients being informed on the matter.

  • He has requested the opportunity to respond, according to the filing.

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