Judge in classified docs case to hear arguments regarding potential conflicts of interest


(FORT PIERCE, Fla.) — Attorneys for former President Donald Trump’s two co-defendants in the special counsel’s classified documents case will appear in court Thursday to make their case that their representation of their clients, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, doesn’t present a conflict of interest despite them representing other witnesses in the investigation.

Lawyers for Trump will also be present at the hearing in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Trump pleaded not guilty in June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials, after prosecutors said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation’s defense capabilities, and took steps to thwart the government’s efforts to get the documents back.

Nauta, Trump’s longtime aide, and De Oliveira, the property manager at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, subsequently pleaded not guilty along with the former president to obstruction charges in a superseding indictment related to alleged attempts to delete Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage.

Thursday’s hearing could provide additional insight into what witnesses have told investigators about Trump, Nauta and De Oliveira’s actions leading up to their indictment.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team requested the hearings for U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to determine if Stanley Woodward, Nauta’s counsel, and John Irving, De Oliveira’s counsel, have any conflicts of interest arising from their past and current representations of witnesses who the government may call at trial.

Woodward previously represented the individual identified in Smith’s superseding indictment as “Trump Employee 4,” who ABC News has previously identified as Yuscil Taveras, Mar-a-Lago’s former director of IT. Taveras switched attorneys after receiving a target letter from the special counsel indicating he may have perjured himself during a May appearance prior to the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the probe.

Taveras then entered into an agreement to cooperate with the government, with Smith agreeing not to prosecute Taveras for allegedly perjuring himself in exchange for his truthful testimony.

According to previous court filings, Smith’s team argues that Woodward’s potential cross examination of his former client “raises two principal dangers.”

“First, the conflict may result in the attorney’s improper use or disclosure of the client’s confidences during the cross-examination,” the special counsel has said, according to the filings.

“Second, the conflict may cause the attorney to pull his punches during cross-examination, perhaps to protect the client’s confidences or to advance the attorney’s own personal interest,” the special counsel said in the filing.

Woodward also represents two additional individuals who could also be called as witnesses at trial. Their identities have not publicly been disclosed.

Smith’s team also argues that conflicts may arise from Irving’s representation of De Oliveira, given that Irving represents at least four others who have been questioned by special counsel investigators.

The clients include a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago who served as head of maintenance before De Oliveira; a former receptionist and assistant to Trump; and a witness who has information about the movement of boxes from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, according to prosecutors.

“Mr. Irving’s representation of the three potential witnesses raises the possibility that he might be in the position of cross-examining current clients,” the special counsel has said, according to the public filings.

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