FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A federal judge says one of President Trump’s associates who is among the defendants in the classified Mar-a-Lago documents case can retain his attorney despite an apparent conflict of interest.
Trump is accused of hiding classified and top-secret documents at his private club after leaving the White House and then colluding with his personal assistant and the manager of the Mar-a-Lago property to obstruct justice. The three pleaded not guilty.
Federal prosecutors said the aide, Walt Nauta, moved several boxes containing documents on Trump’s orders to Mar-a-Lago and then lied to federal investigators about it. Investigators eventually conducted a search of the club and confiscated more than 100 classified and top-secret documents.
Nauta is represented by attorney Stanley Woodward, who previously represented another Trump employee involved in the matter, Mar-a-Lago IT manager Yuscil Taveras. In July, Taveras severed ties with Woodward, hired another attorney and began cooperating with the government.
Taveras is likely to be an important witness. He is expected to testify that Nauta and the property manager, Carlos de Oliveira, unsuccessfully tried to get him to delete the surveillance camera footage before federal investigators seized it.
Prosecutors argued that because Woodward had previously represented Taveras, he could not question his former client or seek to undermine his credibility as a witness.
In court Thursday, Woodward told US District Judge Aileen Cannon that he agreed to those conditions. And after lengthy questioning by Cannon, Nauta agreed to waive his right to conflict-free counsel.
Under those conditions, Cannon said, Woodward could remain Nauta’s attorney. Woodward is also representing an unnamed Trump employee who is expected to testify at trial.
The trial is expected to begin in May 2024. Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly said that the volume of documents and other evidence they have received from prosecutors may require the trial’s opening date to be delayed until later. in the 2024 presidential election.
Judge Cannon scheduled a hearing for early November to discuss these concerns and the trial schedule.