Walt Nauta, personal aide to former U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse, in Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S. August 10, 2023.
Marco Bello | Reuters
The defense attorney for Donald Trump’s valet Walt Nauta complained Friday that he received threats after special counsel Jack Smith revealed that a Mar-a-Lago IT director had admitted to giving false testimony in the former president’s classified documents criminal case.
The lawyer, Stanley Woodward, had represented IT director Yuscil Taveras when his client gave that false testimony to a grand jury, according to Smith’s recent court filing.
Only after Taveras dropped Woodward and got another lawyer did he change his story, admitting he was told to destroy security footage, Smith said in Tuesday’s filing.
Woodward on Friday blasted Smith’s filing as a “brazen and overt effort” to influence the case’s judge and “the court of public opinion” by quoting from a sealed document Woodward had previously submitted in connection with issues surrounding his representation of Taveras.
Woodward’s outrage toward the prosecutor was laid out in his new filing in federal court for the Southern District of Florida, after Smith raised concerns about the defense attorney’s potential conflicts of interest in the case.
Woodward currently represents Nauta and other witnesses in the case, but he no longer represents Taveras.
On Friday evening, Smith in a new filing responding to Woodward’s claims said that permission for public disclosure of “all information” related to a hearing in Washington on Woodward’s potential conflicts in the case “was expressly granted” on July 31 by a judge there after the special counsel requested authorization of such disclosure.
Trump, Nauta and Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira are charged in federal court in Florida with crimes related to Trump’s retention of classified documents after leaving the White House. They have all pleaded not guilty.
Among other things, the defendants are accused of a scheme that aimed to erase surveillance security footage at Mar-a-Lago — Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida — showing boxes of classified records being moved around there by Nauta and De Oliveira.
Nauta’s legal fees are being paid for by Trump’s political action committee, according to public election commission filings.
Woodward disputes the idea that he currently has a conflict of interest, and he asked Judge Aileen Cannon in his filing Friday for a week to submit a detailed rebuttal explaining his position.
Woodward also revealed Friday that Smith’s disclosure of the Taveras situation has created blowback for the lawyer.
“In the time since the government’s submission, defense counsel has received several threatening and/or disparaging emails and phone calls.”
“This is the result of the Special Counsel’s callous disregard for how their unnecessary actions affect and influence the public and the lives of the individuals involved in this matter,” Woodward wrote.
De Oliveira is accused of asking Taveras to delete the footage at Trump’s behest.
On Tuesday, Smith filed a document raising concerns that Woodward has a conflict of interest because he might have to cross-examine his former client, Taveras.
Smith noted that Woodward was serving as Taveras’ lawyer when the IT director testified before a Washington, D.C., grand jury in March.
During that testimony, Taveras “repeatedly denied or claimed not to recall any contacts or conversations about the security footage at Mar-a-Lago,” Smith wrote.
On June 20, Smith’s office notified Taveras, “through Mr. Woodward … that he was the target of a grand jury investigation in the District of Columbia into whether he committed perjury” during his testimony in March, the prosecutor wrote in the filing.
After the chief federal district judge in Washington had a federal public defender give advice to Taveras about the potential conflict of being represented by Nauta’s attorney, Taveras told the judge “he no longer wished to be represented by Mr. Woodward,” Smith wrote.
And “immediately after” accepting the public defender as his new lawyer, Taveras “retracted his prior false testimony,” Smith wrote.
Taveras also “provided information that implicated Nauta, De Oliveira, and Trump in efforts to delete security camera footage, as set forth in the superseding indictment,” the prosecutor wrote.
Smith asked Cannon, the Florida judge, to schedule a hearing on Woodward’s alleged conflict of interests with “Mr. Woodward’s clients present and independent counsel available to provide them with advice should they so desire.”
In his filing Friday, Woodward wrote that Smith “did not, and still has not, alleged any actual conflict in defense counsel’s representation of Mr. Nauta.”
“It has not done so for the obvious fact that no conflict would arise unless and until Trump Employee 4 [as Taveras is identified in court filings] testified against Mr. Nauta,” Woodward wrote.