Judge scolds prosecutors as she delays hearing for co-defendant in Trump classified documents case

Oct 12, 2023, 1:12 PM

FILE - This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and pa...

FILE - This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and partially redacted by the source, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump's lawyers have asked a judge to postpone his Florida classified documents trial until after next year’s presidential election. The lawyers say they have not received all the records they need to prepare Trump's defense. (Department of Justice via AP, File)

(Department of Justice via AP, File)

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — A judge on Thursday scolded federal prosecutors in the classified documents case against Donald Trump as she postponed a hearing to determine if the lawyer for one of the former president’s co-defendants had a conflict of interest.

“I admonish the government for wasting the court’s time,” U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon told prosecutors, saying they had presented arguments during Thursday’s hearing that had not been properly raised in earlier court filings.

She said she would continue the hearing at a later date for Walt Nauta, a Trump valet charged with conspiring with Trump to conceal classified documents from investigators.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team had asked for hearings to ensure that Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira were aware of potential conflicts because their lawyers have represented other key figures in the case. Both men were charged alongside Trump with obstructing government efforts to recover classified documents hoarded at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida estate.

Prosecutors have said in court filings that the multiple representations could create a conflict by causing a lawyer to betray the confidences of a current or former client, or “pull punches,” during cross-examination.

In Nauta’s case, his attorney, Stanley Woodward, has represented at least seven other witnesses in the probe, prosecutors say, including a Mar-a-Lago information technology worker the Justice Department says was asked to delete the surveillance video.

That individual retracted “prior false testimony” after switching lawyers, struck a cooperation deal and provided information that incriminated Trump and helped produce a new indictment in July against the former president, Nauta and De Oliveira, prosecutors have said.

During Thursday’s hearing, prosecutor David Harbach, a member of Smith’s team, said that worker would be called as a government witness and questioned — and also cross-examined — about his change in testimony. He said it would be a conflict for Woodward, who as the worker’s former lawyer would presumably be privy to the confidences of his one-time client, to be permitted to cross-examine his client — a point Cannon said had not been previously argued.

Woodward has denied any conflict and said prosecutors have no way of knowing what he knows or doesn’t know about what his client communicated to him.

At a hearing earlier in the day, De Oliveira said under questioning from Cannon that he understood the concerns arising from his lawyer’s former representation of three government witnesses. Nonetheless, he wanted to keep his attorney, John Irving. Cannon ruled that he could.

Irving told the judge he did not foresee a conflict, saying there was nothing the witnesses — who are now represented by a new lawyer — could reveal that is not already known by the government or that would be problematic for De Oliveira.

De Oliveira is accused of lying to investigators when he claimed — falsely, prosecutors say — he hadn’t even seen boxes moved into Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House. Prosecutors say he also conspired with Trump and Nauta to try to delete surveillance footage from the property to prevent it from being turned over to the grand jury. De Oliveira has pleaded not guilty.


Tucker reported from Washington.

United States News

Associated Press

Las Vegas police search for suspect after 5 homeless people are shot, killing 2

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Five homeless people were shot in Las Vegas on Friday, two of them fatally, and police were searching for a lone suspect, authorities said. The shooting occurred around 5:30 p.m. near a freeway overpass in the northeastern part of the city, according to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Mark Lourenco. […]

52 minutes ago

Associated Press

Judge rejects calls to halt winter construction work on Willow oil project in Alaska during appeal

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal judge in Alaska on Friday rejected requests from environmental groups to halt winter construction work for the massive Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope while the groups’ legal fight over the drilling project wages on. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason just last month upheld the Biden administration’s […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Frank Rocco Giustino, who skippe...

Associated Press

Lawsuits against Trump over Jan. 6 riot can move forward, appeals court rules

Lawsuits against Donald Trump over the U.S. Capitol riot can move forward, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Former Colombian military officer accused in base bombing extradited to Florida

MIAMI (AP) — A former Colombian military officer accused of injuring dozens, including three U.S. soldiers, in a bombing attack at a Colombian military base has been extradited to South Florida. A five-count indictment against Andres Fernando Medina Rodriguez, 39, was unsealed Friday in Miami federal court, according to court records. A federal grand jury […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Los Angeles police searching for suspect in three fatal shootings of homeless people

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles police are searching for a suspect in the fatal shootings of three homeless people in separate incidents around the city, authorities announced Friday. All three shootings occurred in the early morning hours over several days in November, Police Chief Michel Moore said at a news conference along with Mayor […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

US expels an ex-Chilean army officer accused of a folk singer’s torture and murder

MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. has expelled a former Chilean Army officer accused of torturing and killing folk singer Victor Jara during the country’s bloody 1973 coup. Pedro Barrientos had emigrated to Florida in 1990, the same year the bloody dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet came to an end. This year, he was stripped of […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Judge scolds prosecutors as she delays hearing for co-defendant in Trump classified documents case