Trump’s co-defendant says he wants to remain a lawyer despite potential conflicts | ET REALITY

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A personal assistant to former President Donald J. Trump and co-defendant in the classified documents case told a federal judge on Friday that he wanted to retain his lawyer despite a potential conflict of interest that could be problematic for his defense.

The aide, Walt Nauta, is accused of conspiring with Trump to obstruct efforts to recover highly sensitive government documents after he left office. His attorney, Stanley Woodward Jr., previously represented a key witness in the case.

The hearing appeared to end a months-long tug-of-war between the prosecution and defense over whether co-defendants in the case, including Nauta, understood that their attorneys had potential conflicts. It was a continuation of one cut short this month when Judge Aileen M. Cannon of U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce, Florida, scolded special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors for raising a scenario they had not previously disclosed in court filings.

On Friday, Judge Cannon spent nearly an hour making sure Nauta understood the “potential dangers” that could affect his defense.

Nauta, who is still a Trump employee, assured the judge that he understood that by hiring Woodward, he was waiving his right to appeal a potential conviction on the basis that his defense attorney had a conflict of interest.

Woodward represents several clients linked to Trump and the former president’s supporters. In some cases, Woodward is paid through Trump’s political action committee.

Until this summer, one of those clients was an information technology assistant at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and residence, considered a crucial witness in the case. Court documents refer to him only as Trump Employee 4, although people familiar with the matter have identified him as Yuscil Taveras.

According to Taveras, Nauta and another co-defendant, Carlos De Oliveira, had tried to convince him to delete surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago that prosecutors had subpoenaed as part of their investigation. But that revelation only came to light after Taveras, facing the possibility of a perjury charge for lying to a grand jury, fired Woodward and hired a new attorney. He then gave new testimony.

Like Nauta, De Oliveira, the Mar-a-Lago property manager, is accused of conspiring to obstruct the government’s criminal investigation into Trump’s handling of national security documents after he left the White House. .

Taveras is so far the only Trump employee known to have agreed to cooperate with the special counsel after facing charges.

Woodward told the special counsel’s office before Friday’s hearing that he would not question two potential witnesses in the case, including Taveras. He said another Nauta attorney, Sasha Dadan, would cross-examine witnesses Woodward previously or currently represents.

The trial is currently scheduled for May 2024.

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