The federal judge presiding over Donald Trump’s classified documents case slammed federal prosecutors for “wasting the court’s time” on Thursday due to a request to restrict a lawyer for one of Trump’s co-defendants.
US district judge Aileen Cannon brought a sudden halt to Thursday’s hearing in Florida after receiving a request to prevent Stanley Woodward, a lawyer for co-defendant Walt Nauta, from conducting cross-examination and closing arguments of a former client. “I do want to admonish the government for frankly wasting the court’s time,” Cannon said, adding she was “disappointed” that prosecutor David Harbach had filed the request without warning nor citing supporting cases.
Thursday’s hearing was arranged to allow Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira to be told of their lawyers’ prior representation of witnesses during the grand jury investigation, who could testify against them when the case comes to trial. Nauta was charged in an indictment alleging the illegal retention of classified documents at former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, and, with Trump, was charged with De Oliveira on additional obstruction count in July.
Conflicts Of Interest
Prosecutors for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office had called for conflict-of interest hearings over uncertainty as to how Woodward might cross-examine “Trump Employee 4” – known to be Mar-a-Lago IT director Yuscil Taveras. Woodward initially represented Taveras during the grand jury investigation, before the latter changed his sworn testimony over the threat of charges.
As Taveras is intended to be called as a witness, federal prosecutors argued that Woodward should be exempt from engaging in cross-examination or reference his credibility during closing arguments to the jury. While the first point had been raised before, the new request on closing arguments prompted district judge Cannon to press Harbach on why no warning had been given.
Harbach clarified that he wanted Nauta to understand that it was possible Woodward’s conflicts would preclude him from attacking Taveras’ credibility. However, Cannon sided with Woodward, who disagreed and claimed he was uncomfortable about Nauta deciding on any conflict of interest before his role at the trial was crystal clear. He added that he was unprepared for Harbach’s comments, who was unable to provide binding supporting cases from the eleventh circuit.
De Oliveira Sticks With Lawyer
At an earlier hearing, De Oliveira told the judge he wanted to retain his Trump PAC-funded lawyer, John Irving, even though he’d previously represented three witnesses who could be called to testify against him at trial. Irving had already agreed that cross-examination would be conducted by co-counsel Donnie Murrell.
Portuguese-born De Oliveira’s grasp of English has been a topic of discussion for months. Concerns remain among Trump lawyers whether De Oliveira has a full understanding of the consequences of a potentially conflicted attorney, and has previously told the court that he could read English better than he could write.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.