DOJ raises conflict of interest issues with Trump aide’s attorney in classified documents case

August 3, 2023

The Department of Justice is gearing up a potential disqualification of an attorney representing Trump aide Walt Nauta in its case regarding the former President’s handling of classified documents. 

Nauta worked for Trump in the White House as a valet and continued to work as an aide to the former President after Trump left office in January 2021. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Florida July 6 to six charges, including conspiracy to obstruct, withholding a document or record, and scheme to conceal, according to the initial federal indictment in the case that was unsealed in June. 

On Wednesday the DOJ disclosed that Nauta attorney Stanley Woodward has represented “at least seven other individuals who have been questioned in connection with the investigation”—including some who have testified about Nauta.

The DOJ is requesting a hearing with Woodward’s clients “to inform them of potential risks and inquire into possible waivers.” The department further notes that the court could provide an independent counsel to Nauta to assess whether he’s receiving fair representation from his attorney. 

“Nauta should be thoroughly advised of the potential conflicts and attendant risks,” the DOJ wrote. Referencing two Woodward clients who testified about Nauta, the court filing adds, “Witness 1 and Witness 2 should also be present at the hearing and apprised of the risk that Mr. Woodward may use or disclose confidences he obtained from them.”

Woodward is not Nauta’s only legal representation. Because the rules surrounding the federal court in Miami require that practicing attorneys be a member in good standing of the Florida bar, or to be sponsored by one before appearing there, Nauta is also being represented by Florida practicing attorney Sasha Dadan.

The motion regarding Woodward comes following reports about the extent of Trump’s financing of attorneys for employees and other allies now embroiled in legal trouble due to their connections to the embattled former President.

Woodward declined to comment on the DOJ’s latest assertions. However, the department’s filing indicates that the attorney will respond in court, adding that he “does not oppose” informing Nauta of his rights.

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