Judge Slams the Prosecutors for ‘Wasting the Court’s Time’ in Trump’s Classified Materials Case
On Thursday, the judge who will preside over the upcoming trial of former President Donald Trump (on accusations of mishandling sensitive materials) admonished federal prosecutors while delaying a hearing to determine whether or not one of Donald Trump's co-defendants recognized that his counsel could have a conflict of interest. Even though prosecutors had previously said they would not seek disqualification, US district judge Aileen Cannon unexpectedly postponed the hearing upon receiving the motion. As reported by The Guardian, Judge Aileen M. Cannon said, "I do want to admonish the government for frankly wasting the court’s time."
Judge Aileen Cannon holds hearings in Florida to determine if the lawyers for former president Donald Trump’s co-defendants have conflicts of interest that prevent them from providing adequate legal representation. https://t.co/oQDUHjHo5G— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 12, 2023
She expressed worry about the fact that the prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith's office had brought an issue during the hearing that had not been included in any of their pre-hearing court documents. This difficulty arose during the second hearing for Trump employees Carlos De Oliveira (the property manager) and Waltine "Walt" Nauta (the valet), who are accused of aiding the former President in foiling government efforts to recover sensitive papers from his possession.
Lawyers representing De Oliveira and Nauta had also represented other possible witnesses in the case, which raised red flags with the special counsel's office. The government prosecutors asked for what's called a 'Garcia hearing,' in which the judge makes sure the defendants and lawyers are on the same page regarding any possible conflicts of interest and that they've agreed to waive any concerns.
Judge Aileen Cannon Pauses Litigation in Classified Documents Case While Donald Trump Requests Extensionhttps://t.co/TOan4MztxG— Camille Cutler (@kearnsmania) October 9, 2023
According to court documents filed by prosecutors, a lawyer representing numerous clients may feel pressured to "pull punches" during cross-examination or reveal confidential information about a current or past client. Nauta's attorney, Stanley Woodward, has represented at least seven additional witnesses in the investigation, including Mar-a-Lago IT director Yuscil Taveras who was allegedly pressured to destroy the surveillance footage. As per reports, Woodward had first represented Taveras through the grand jury inquiry. When prosecutors notified Taveras that he was a target for prosecution, he decided to amend his sworn testimony and sought new counsel, which Trump's political action committee did not pay for. Prosecutors told Judge Cannon during the hearing that they planned to summon Taveras as a witness and that they thought Woodward shouldn't be allowed to cross-examine him or that they should be allowed to attack his credibility during closing statements. In prior court documents, prosecutors had detailed the cross-examination worry, but the plea to keep Woodward out of closing statements was new. Cannon looked frustrated by this and questioned the prosecution as to why they were only now bringing it up in the hearing.
The hearing for one of Trump's co-defendants, Carlos De Oliveira, the property manager at Mar-a-Lago, went off without major hiccups. John Irving, De Oliveira's attorney, defended three witnesses previously. Prosecutor David Harbach, who is assisting special counsel, Jack Smith, argued that Irving's duty of loyalty and confidentiality to his former clients would be tested if he were to cross-examine them in his defense of De Oliveira or question their credibility in his closing arguments. When questioned by Cannon, De Oliveira acknowledged the validity of the concerns raised by the fact that his attorney had previously represented three government witnesses. But he was adamant on keeping his current lawyer, John Irving, and the Judge ruled that he could.
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