Hearing set on possible attorney conflicts of interest in Mar-a-Lago documents case

Walt Nauta (L), aid to former U.S. President Donald Trump and defendant named in the former president's classified documents case, and Carlos De Oliveira (R) are seen leaving the Alto Lee Adams, Sr. United States federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., on August 10. A judge ordered new hearings Monday to examine whether the two defendants should be assigned new lawyers following allegations of conflicts of interest. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, Judge Aileen Cannon ordered new hearings Monday to look into possible conflicts of interest for two attorneys representing former President Donald Trump's co-defendants in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.

The South Florida federal judge set an Oct. 12 date for the attorneys representing Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira and Trump's valet Walt Nauta. Both men are charged with helping the former president obstruct justice by allegedly moving boxes of classified documents in and out of a storage room at the resort.

According to the Justice Department, Nauta's attorney Stanley Woodward has represented "at least seven other individuals who have been questioned in connection with the investigation," including those who have testified about Nauta.

"Nauta should be thoroughly advised of the potential conflicts and attendant risks," the DOJ wrote.

One of those seven individuals was Mar-a-Lago IT worker Yuscil Taveras, who recanted his testimony over the summer after a Washington, D.C., federal judge appointed a new lawyer, according to prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon of the southern district of Florida ordered new hearings Monday, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, to look into possible attorney conflicts of interest for two Trump co-defendants in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Photo courtesy of U.S. District Court, southern district of Florida
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon of the southern district of Florida ordered new hearings Monday, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, to look into possible attorney conflicts of interest for two Trump co-defendants in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Photo courtesy of U.S. District Court, southern district of Florida

De Oliveira's attorney John Irving is also serving as counsel to other Mar-a-Lago workers who could be called as witnesses, and "has information demonstrating the falsity of statements De Oliveira has made to the government," the DOJ said.

One witness "has information about De Oliveira's loyalty to Trump and about De Oliveira's involvement in the replacement of a lock -- at the direction of Trump -- on a closet inside Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago on June 2, 2022, the day Nauta and De Oliveira moved boxes," the DOJ wrote.

Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 charges related to alleged mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 charges related to alleged mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Special Counsel Jack Smith argued that Woodward and Irving also have conflicts of interest because they are being paid by a Trump political action committee.

In June, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges that he allegedly mishandled classified documents. Trump faces three additional counts under a superseding indictment, which alleges De Oliveira helped Nauta relocate 30 boxes of materials into a storage unit at Trump's request "to conceal information from the FBI and grand jury."

In August, De Oliveira pleaded not guilty to multiple obstruction-related offenses in the classified documents case. Nauta also pleaded not guilty to conspiring with Trump to obstruct the investigation at Mar-a-Lago.

During next month's hearing, Cannon could appoint federal public defenders for De Oliveira and Nauta, or order them to obtain new lawyers.