Stan Woodward Wants to Give Walt Nauta a Need to Know the Contents of the Stolen Documents

The headline revelation in DOJ’s renewed bid for a classified protective order in the Trump case is that Trump wants to be able to discuss classified documents with his attorneys in his offices, which the government correctly notes, “seeks permission to do so in the very location at which he is charged with willfully retaining the documents charged in this case.”

I’m sure we’ll come back to that, particularly if Judge Aileen Cannon entertains Trump’s demand seriously (under CIPA the government could immediately appeal any decision to the 11th Circuit).

But I’ve been more interested in Walt Nauta’s demand: that he get to see all the stolen classified documents charged in the indictment.

Defendant Nauta objects to language that limits his personal access to classified information, as opposed to access by his cleared counsel;


Defendant Nauta is charged only with obstruction and false statement offenses related the movement and concealment of Defendant Trump’s boxes; the contents of the classified documents contained in the boxes, and the national defense information that they contain, are not material to proving or defending against those charges. Moreover, Defendant Nauta’s counsel will have the opportunity to review the classified discovery, and should they see a need to share any particular classified documents with Defendant Nauta, counsel will have an opportunity to raise the issue with the Government and the Court.1

1 The Government intends to provide to Defendant Nauta’s counsel all classified discovery identified to date.


As explained, Defendant Nauta has no need to review the contents of the classified information. His cleared counsel will have full access to the documents in preparing his defense, and the protective order will allow Nauta to seek permission to review classified information personally if he establishes a need to know. The procedure set forth in the Government’s proposed protective order appropriately balances the need to protect classified information while allowing Defendant Nauta’s counsel the ability to assess the documents.

I assume this is one more effort from Stan Woodward — who is being paid by Trump’s PAC — to test the boundaries of Judge Cannon’s indulgence, a tactical move to figure out how much the defense team can get away with.

This is, in my opinion as someone who has been covering Espionage Act cases for over 15 years, an ill-considered move.

As I noted in my first review of the original indictment, Nauta’s alleged overt acts already then fulfilled all the elements of the offense of 18 USC 793(g), conspiring with Trump to hoard classified documents, which would dramatically increase Nauta’s legal jeopardy. Already then, Nauta was at risk of being superseded with charges that expose him to over a decade of prison time, possibly two.

That’s all the more true given the additional acts in the superseding indictment.

Effectively, this demand from Woodward is a request: Please give my client a Need to Know what is in those 32 highly classified documents that Nauta wouldn’t even have had the Need to Know when he was working in the White House.

The one thing that would give Nauta a Need to Know what’s in the stolen documents — as the government intimates — is if Nauta were charged under the Espionage Act, as he could be under 18 USC 793(g).

Which brings me to a key detail in this WaPo story — which reveals that, tomorrow, Trump will disclose he has spent $40M on lawyers, eating up his campaign cash (which makes Will Hurd’s quip from the other night — that Trump is running for President to stay out of prison — pretty timely).

That’s a really important story (and will create still more damning, unprivileged documents for prosecutors to find). But WaPo’s story confirms what I suspected when I focused on ¶91 of the superseding indictment — the one that describes Trump assessing Carlos De Oliveira’s loyalty before he offered to pay for a lawyer — as, potentially, its most important.

Stan Woodward — the lawyer who has decided it’d be a good idea to ask that his client be given a Need to Know what’s in the stolen classified documents — has started to face very serious conflict problems that have been inevitable for months.

Woodward represents at least the following people (I’ll add more when I remember them):

  • Peter Navarro (who goes on trial for contempt in September)
  • Dan Scavino
  • Kash Patel
  • Walt Nauta
  • Will Russell, who testified on July 20
  • Taylor Budowich, who testified in Florida
  • Brad Parscale in AJ Delgado’s pregnancy discrimination suit against the Trump campaign
  • Kelly Meggs, who has already been sentenced for sedition
  • Freddie Klein, the former State Department official who was part of the Tunnel battle, also recently sentenced
  • Ryan Samsel, who kicked off the entire riot on January 6

Critically, Woodward was representing Yuscil Taveras, whose recent testimony is one of the things that made it possible to add Carlos De Oliveira (represented by a different Trump paid lawyer) to the indictment and include the Keystone Cops effort to delete footage. That created a conflict between Nauta’s interests and Taveras’, and someone — presumably Chief Judge James Boasberg — appointed a conflict counsel for Taveras, which is what led to Taveras becoming dramatically more forthcoming.

Nauta, who investigators long considered a key witness in the classified documents investigation, has been represented for many months by lawyer Stan Woodward, with Save America footing the bills. Woodward also represents several other Trump-linked clients who have been subpoenaed as part of Smith’s investigations, including an IT worker named Yuscil Taveras.

For much of the classified documents probe, there did not appear to be a conflict between Nauta and Taveras.

After Trump and Nauta were indicted in June, however, Taveras decided he had more he wanted to tell the authorities about his conversations with De Oliveira, according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

Taveras offered information implicating all three defendants in an alleged conspiracy to cover up evidence, these people said.

Legal ethics rules bar attorneys from arguing adverse positions in a case — such as defending one client by cross-examining another client, or advising one person who is testifying to investigators or a grand jury against another.

Once Taveras’s position put him potentially at odds with Nauta’s defense, a judge reviewed the issue, a person familiar with the matter said. A second lawyer — not paid by the PAC — was brought in to provide legal advice to Taveras, who then spoke to investigators, according to people familiar with the matter. [my emphasis]

I’ve been waiting for the moment when DOJ would ask for a conflict counsel to be appointed for Nauta: because Woodward getting paid by a PAC that is under investigation for this spending is, by itself, a potential conflict. But this describes that a judge, probably Boasberg, brought in a conflict counsel for Taveras.

It’s not clear whether Taveras has flipped or just gotten far more cooperative — he fits the description of a person who had received a target letter, so the decision to be more forthcoming may have been entirely about self-preservation.

But Taveras has not only provided damaging testimony about Nauta, De Oliveira, and Trump, but he likely can explain who from Trump Organization in New York participated in the still uncharged successful efforts to delete surveillance footage, who might be able to give someone the rights to do that.

That is, he likely has testimony that could implicate the Matthews Calamari, key players in Trump’s corporate empire.

More importantly, prosecutors will do with Taveras what DOJ did with Cassidy Hutchinson after she described that Stefan Passantino was discouraging her from being all that forthcoming: ask more about the nature of that legal arrangement. They may also ask about Susie Wiles’ role in it (which is also laid out in the WaPo article), which also came up in even Hutchinson’s publicly released testimony about these matters.

And Wiles, of course, is not only the person arranging all this conflicted legal representation for people and now running Trump’s campaign, but she’s also someone who has been involved in the use of the documents; she is also reportedly the person to whom Trump showed a classified document in Bedminster she was not cleared to see.

It’s not just that Trump is spending more on lawyers than he is taking in. But he’s spending on lawyers whose conflicts make this entire scheme a fragile game of jenga.

One that may have started to fall apart.

Update: Trump Employee 5 in the superseding indictment must also have given testimony, which may also be fairly recent. Given that he’s the kind of person who’d be consulted about loyalty, he presumably also was part of the in-house lawyering team.

Update: NYT has their own version of this preemptive limited hangout of Trump’s financial shell game. It mentions the potential legal problem with using funds raised for election security to pay lawyers, but steers clear of the ongoing investigation into it.

The PAC was the entity in which Mr. Trump had parked the more than $100 million raised when he sought small-dollar donations after losing the 2020 election. Mr. Trump claimed he needed the support to fight widespread fraud in the race. Officials, including some with his campaign, turned up no evidence of widespread fraud.

Mr. Trump used some of that $100 million for other politicians and political activities in 2022, but he also used it to pay more than $16 million in legal fees, most of them related to investigations into him, and at least $10 million of which was for his own personal fees.

Save America began 2023 with just $18 million in cash on hand, which is less than half of what was spent on legal bills this year.

Campaign finance experts are divided on whether Mr. Trump is even able to continue to use the PAC to pay for his personal legal bills, as he became a candidate last November.

Update: CNN has confirmed the timeline: Taveras got a target letter after the first indictment, then ditched Woodward, then testified.

Yuscil Taveras, a Mar-a-Lago employee who oversees the property’s surveillance cameras, received a target letter from federal prosecutors after former President Donald Trump was first indicted in June on charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving office, sources told CNN.


After receiving the target letter, Taveras changed lawyers because his attorney, Stan Woodward, also represented Nauta, which presented a conflict, sources said.

Update: Added two more Woodward clients.

Update: Added another Woodward client.

114 replies
  1. Ruthie2the says:

    Bmaz was disgusted/dismayed by last week’s superseding indictment, which he considers bad form, and in this particular case also bad strategy (hope I got that right). As a general rule I agree with his argument. If civil liberties aren’t preserved, what is justice worth?

    However, in a mob-like case I could see justification for exceptions, and the jenga of lawyerly conflicts and its potential for collapse may be the mother load of any such exceptions. I’d think he needs to be cautious with such an approach, though, because it could start to look egregious. How many more bites at the apple can he take?

    • emptywheel says:

      It becomes a problem if continuing to use a grand jury after the crime is already charged. But Smith has at least two and probably three grand juries, and there are obvious crimes — like dissemination — being investigated properly. Plus there are a slew of banked perjury charges in DC, which may be why Taveras decided to unforget that happened in the sound closet.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        Can Woodward’s insistance that Nauta be given clearance to view classified docs be used as probable cause to initiate a followup inquiry into Nauta’s probable breach of 793(g)? Just as I tought you were about to make that point in your story above, you jumped to the campaign fundraising fraud connection.

        And in that vein: If Smith does include a set of fundraising fraud charges as part of the anticipated J6 prosecution, would it be possible that Woodward becomes a defendant since his legal antics were part of the Trump-as-victim pitch?

        One last question: is Woodward still slow-walking his SF-86, and is that an unspoken part of this particular pleading?

        • emptywheel says:

          No. The SF-86es are in. Armando made me go look. We knew Woodward’s was in, but Sasha Dadan, the GOP loyalist whose speciality is family law, also submitted hers. That means that if there’s a conflict that makes Woodward’s continued representation of Nauta impossible (we’re not there yet, IMO, but we could get there), then he would still have cleared counsel, though even more wildly inappropriate to this case than Woodward is.

        • Zirczirc says:

          In more than one place, Marcy, you have implied that “dissemination” is on the table. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Trump had tried to sell documents, but other than his transactional nature and his utter lack of loyalty to anyone, including the country, do we have any evidence that he actually did try to sell any secrets?

        • P J Evans says:

          There are a number of (apparently dead) sources in the Middle East, after he talked about some of those docs.

        • MwlW_14MAY2019_1025h says:

          Please provide a source for this. Thanks.

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too short it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Furthermore, “MwlW” is your third username; you’ve commented previously as “MelW” and “Mel.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • HikaakiH says:

          But was that Trump or the wunderkind investment genius that the Saudis have given $2 billion to manage?

        • Lisboeta says:

          I guess it’s fuzzy? But Kuschner was part of Trump’s administration. And, I gather, bypassed proper security checks — on his FIL’s say-so.

      • klynn says:

        When you replied:
        “It becomes a problem if continuing to use a grand jury after the crime is already charged. But Smith has at least two and probably three grand juries, and there are obvious crimes — like dissemination — being investigated properly.”

        It made me wonder a little OT. Are there any other states you think Trump crimes (combined documents, Jan 6) might have or will have grand juries? I’m wondering if Ohio, MI, or PA may have any for example.

  2. obsessed says:

    Oh my God. This “conflict counsel” appointment is fascinating. Is this what you (EW) were talking about on Twitt… errr … “X” the other day when you teased that more fun was coming on the documents front? I’ve been wondering why Woodward hasn’t been called out as Stefan Passantino was after it became apparent that he’d been trying to get Cassidy Hutchinson to feign a bad memory. Actually, I just checked and there’s no recent news on Passantino. Does anyone have an expert opinion on the danger if any that Passantino and Woodward may be in and who if anyone would charge them? I’ve been assuming that in light of Passantino being exposed that Woodward must be taking extra precautions, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way. What exactly are the rules governing this type of apparent conflict?

    • emptywheel says:

      AS FAR AS WE KNOW, Woodward has just been lawyering, not doing anything. That’s not true for Passantino, whose other actions may be under review.

      Woodward’s risk lies in ethical challenges, not legal ones.

      • David Brooks says:

        You’re saying there is no legal risk in continued lawyering amid conflicts, right? Is administrative action by some bar the limit? Presumably the impacted client has only one recourse: switch lawyers after the conflict emerges.

        • emptywheel says:

          I HOPE at some point someone says, Walt, we want you to talk to a conflict attorney to see whether your interests, not Trump’s, are being represented.

          DOJ did that in the Oath Keeper’s trial after it became clear Sidney Powell was paying for some of their defenses. But it took 3 months.

          Here, Jack Smith is highly aware of the conflicts involved, because he’s criminally investigating them. I don’t know when they intervene, or ask Judge Boasberg to do it for them. Given that someone, probably Boasberg, did with Taveras, it’s possible he could with Nauta as well, not least because he (or someone) recognized the conflict with Taveras.

    • jecojeco says:

      This scheme where trump provides lawyers to his codefendants and witnesses to his crimes to guide their testimony and legal moves to his benefit is so inherently conflicted I don’t know how courts can permit it. Those receiving this free legal advice generally lack sophistication or resources to protect their best interests and their trump donated lawyers are highly politicized with very convenient ethical standards. The finished product puts them in a worse place, trump and these lawyers in a better place with the lawyers amassing a pile of legal fees that trump PACs have fleeced from naive donors. There is a pack of ambulance chasing lawyers will to risk a bar association wrist slap to engage in this behavior.

      (Passantino, Justin Clark and Alex Cannon were dumped by their law firm and Passantino has sued Jan6 comm for $67Million for reputational harm LOL)

      If trump has spent $40million thus far on his criminal defense, the final tab may exhaust even his witless donor base (and/or stiff his growing stable of lawyers)

      I assume his MAL lawyers warned him not to mess with the security videos when they showed him the draft subpoena and he immediately immediately ignored them and did the opposite. Maybe they’re getting paid enough and aren’t worried about reputational harm like Passantino and will stick with him

      • PeteT0323 says:

        I realize Marcy mentioned that Trump’s PAC is under investigation for use of funds presumably also in paying Trump and his “loyalists” legal bills. A top post on that would be interesting if there is enough info to be interesting.

        Imagine if the payola rug was pulled out (enjoined?) from under all the “loyalists” and their legal counsel.


      • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

        @jecojeco: Employers routinely provide lawyers for employees when the firm is in trouble. What happens next depends on the ethics of the lawyer, and to some extent the employer. An ethical lawyer will put the interest of their client first, but will remember who paid them where the interests are murky. An ethical employer will only pressure the lawyer to keep bills at a reasonable level, but will probably not hire stroppy lawyers for future employees. Iow, even the ethical zone is pretty gray.

        • RitaRita says:

          Attorney ethical concerns depend on what kind of trouble the corporation is in and what the role of the employee is. Civil or criminal? Is the employee just a fact witness? Or accused of participating in the problematic activity.

          Whatever the situation, the attorney should not be counseling the client to lie or mislead. And the corporate counsel should be advising the employer not to retaliate for truthful, even if, adverse testimony.

          However, there is always gray area and some attorneys walk right up to the edge.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Oh, some lawyers more than walk up to the edge and stay there. Bill Barr, for example, who’s the same lawyer in and out of government, spent twenty years as a corporate lawyer. And there are frequent conflicts for lawyers when trying to defend employees and their employer at the same time.

        • RitaRita says:

          Part of the ethics problem is that some veteran big firm lawyers tend to be very pro forma on the ethical obligations and get so used to clients waiving conflicts of interest that they don’t give it much thought.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yep. Some big firms are so used to getting their way, even with Fortune 50 clients, that if you refuse to sign off on their standard conflicts waiver, they won’t accept the work.

      • Fancy Chicken says:

        The WAPO article quoted in the post above also alluded to the fact that Nauta in particular doesn’t seem to have anyone outside Trump world to act as a sounding board or give counsel concerning his legal problems. I’m sure that, along with being so loyal to Trump, is coloring his belief that the PAC provided counsel is the best he can do.

        I hope he realizes it is not in his best interest as the reality that he’s facing upwards of 20 years in prison sinks in. He may not realize it, but at this point a freebie lawyer from Legal Aid would be better that what he currently has defending Trump’s, oops I mean his, interests.

        • Ruthie2the says:

          It bears repeating that we’re dealing with a cult of personality. Nauta’s willingness to fall on his sword for Trump may be of a piece with general GOP willingness – nay, embrace of – Trump’s lawlessness.

        • bidrec-gap says:

          Or, just Chamorro culture.

          That Trump and Nauta are co-conspirators is like Macron conspiring with a member of the French Foreign Legion, or the Pope conspiring with a member of his Swiss Guard, or the prime minister of England conspiring with a Gurkha.

          History will say, “What?”

      • jecojeco says:

        I should point out that Nauta and DeOlivera are MAL employees and most of the potential Jan6 & GA RICO witnesses & co-defendants aren’t trump org employees BUT trump’s MAL co-defendants aren’t having their leg expenses paid by trump org but thru trump’s PAC so it’s more of a personal thingy rather than part of their job description.

        So trump is rapidly draining the swamp – the swamp being PACs set up to Stop the (’20) Steal and fund his campaign, a quick $40mil in only 6 mos before most of the indictment shoes have dropped and trials started, so the sky is the limit with scores of additional co-defendants looking to latch onto a legal expenses PAC nipple. Normal people can’t afford these types of expenses which could go on for a couple of years. If trump can’t/won’t pay their legal costs they’ll flip to avoid bankruptcy – at least the rational ones.

        trump’s effective fund raising for his PACs will be crowding out ’24 GOP candidate fundraising, at least with trump’s trailerpark base.

        • Georgia Girl says:

          You really must not know any Trump supporters if you think they live in trailer parks. The Trump supporters at the historic Episcopal church I attend are doctors, lawyers, bankers, and real estate developers. A couple of them are billionaires. They don’t go to rallies. They hold private dinners at the country club or in their country homes, which is where all that dark money comes from. All most trailer park residents know about politics is that politicians will screw them over the minute it’s in their best interests, if they ever think about them at all.

        • Lisboeta says:

          Yes, all that ‘dark money’. But didn’t the Supreme Court determine, in Citizens United, that money was speech?

  3. EuroTark says:

    Deleting files can actually be very hard to get right. For one thing, IT has for decades been very concious of inadvertently losing data, which affects deletion and retention procedures as well as backup. Secondly, atually removing information from a magnetic medium isn’t always permanent unless you physically destroy the disk in question.

    What follows us purely speculuation based on common procedures as I have no direct knowledge of the setup used at Mar-a-Lago.

    The surveillance system software is almost certainly an Off-The-Shelf solution procuded from a vendor, possibly even in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) contract in which the daily backend operations are outsourced to the vendor. There’s two main configurations for this: dedicated on-site servers for processing and storage, or off-site cloud servers for storage.

    A dedicated on-site would be the best scenario for Trump, as then they would at least have some control of which backups exist and the option of physically destroying the drives. Normally when you delete a file on a computer, the only that’s changed is the File-Allocation Table (FAT) which keeps track of which parts of the disks are occupied by which files, and which is free space. The actual contents remain until they are overwritten by a new file. Even when overwritten it can sometimes be possible to recover the file, or at least fragments, due to how magnetic storage media works: The “heads” that write data don’t always travel exactly on the same path, so a small fragment can remain. Back in the 90s it was considered necessary to overwrite data 30 times for it to be securely deleted.

    The bigger issue though is backups: Much has been made of the 60-days retention policy, but that just describes how much data is available in the solution. A common backup solution would have transactional (ie: every change is logged) backup for the last 30 days, with backup-snapshots (a copy of the data as it was at that moment) for each month of the previous year, and possibly even yearly snapshots for the last X years. A cloud-based storage is more likely to have this kind of backup as default than a customized on-site installation.

    (Apologies for posting this on the new thread but I think it might explain why what’s described as a successfull attempt of obstruction still might have given DOJ the footage)

    • Spank Flaps says:

      Just speculation but if Matthew Calamari deleted the incriminating data, then Trump learned that data retrieval is still possible from wiped hard drives, so he gave the order to pull the plug on the swimming pool.

      • EuroTark says:

        The swimming pool incident would do a lot of damage to the servers, but the disks should still be recoverable, and the backups are most likely off-site. Still, it’s what someone without knowledge of IT would think would destroy the disks.

        • Leu2500 says:

          And flooding/water damage is something Trump used in the past (pre-email & electronic records days) to avoid providing documents requested in property tax, etc investigations.

          So a go-to method for him.

    • David Brooks says:

      It seems to me that if installing a surveillance system is not required by law or an insurance company, then easy deletion could be a feature, not a bug. Although I doubt a reputable vendor would advertise such a feature. And the “rights” discussion sort of negates that thought.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Standard, off the shelf systems are not built that way. The rights discussion also seems to be more about not wanting to draw the short straw when it inevitably comes out that records were deleted outside of a normal retention policy.

    • ShallMustMay08 says:

      Your comment as well as a few others elsewhere (back up for extortion and other IT folks in NY has stuck with me all day!!!Then Habib using the word “tape” as well as his wording on his social media. Indictment states “server”. I think they hope to infer as video tape not necessarily magnetic back up.

      Trumps primary “legal” business was/is (before the gov grifting) real estate and “hospitality” (planes, hotel’s, restaurants, casino’s, etc). Email (external) was after intro of work environments with PC’s and LAN(s). I bet the guts of his data (security, money, reservations, etc) are physical up there with more involved than just Garten and the Matthew’s. Other IT folks are needed there and not for simple data entry.

      My personal experience in “hospitality” where we had customers we suspected (arms length) of possible mob activity would never allow any back end product to engage with (employees) on the front end. Even straight customers didn’t want it mixing. Ultimately, before email or cloud (which trump org falls into) the most important data was selected for keeping on site via various disks, tape, or green ledgers. I’m dating myself but his time too. Whatever they use I’m guessing it has legacy roots to that era then added and updated but always in house only.

      To that end but maybe drive the point finer: I see he is bigger trouble with his Chicago property water usage than previously known. How does that happen? My guess is “discovery”. /s

      • Ravenous hoarde says:


        “ The 92-story condo-hotel is able to use the river for its cooling system and dump heated water back into it since it holds an NPDES permit, which is authorized by the Clean Water Act. The Trump Organization has allegedly underreported its flow rates to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency by 44 percent over the past decade.”

        So basically any number a trump ever uses needs to be double checked and triple checked. The fraud levels alleged are impressive.

  4. Mos Calamari says:

    I’m sure this has occurred to others regarding what Marcy referred to in this post as ‘the Matthews Calamari’, but it wasn’t until I read that phrasing that the Star Wars Admiral Ackbar Mos Calamari meme popped into my head. And I think it’s perfect for this post.

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  5. pdaly says:

    That Nauta himself (as opposed to his defense attorney) claims he needs access to the classified documents is ridiculous and I agree it looks like a ploy by his lawyer to test Judge Cannon.

    I can also see that if Nauta is granted a need to know access to the documents it protects Trump from some additional charges. For example, should Trump “accidentally” talk about the case in front of Nauta and mention details in the documents, then Trump could be charged with transmitting classified information to one not entitled to receive it. Trump might still be at risk of being charged with witness tampering.

    • bidrec-gap says:

      It could be a ploy by his lawyer to highlight the absurdity of the charge. If the request is smacked down it would be because Nauta has no need to know.

      ARFCOS, the Armed Forces Courier Service, move documents around all of the time. They do it without a clearance necessary to know the contents of the briefcase they use. They have orders to transit documents.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        As a sub-contractor I managed IT projects for a large defense contractor for about a year. I wasn’t cleared, but I was able to fill the PM role because all I was doing was tracking labor hours/money spent and percentage complete, and giving status updates to senior management. I had no visibility into the projects themselves, roughly parallel to those couriers.

  6. Mike Stone says:

    If Cannon were to grant Nauta’s request that he be allowed to review the classified documents, it appears to me that the impact would be to severely slow down the discovery process and push the trial date further out. I guess the DOJ could appeal that decision, but that also adds in a delay.

    • emptywheel says:

      ANY appeal to the 11th would slow things down, but CIPA appeals are supposed to be quick and given the history here I assume this one would be.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      And don’t forget the time necessary to give poor Nauta training on what all of those words in the classified documents mean!

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        My time at the defense contractor (mentioned above) was a few decades ago and at the time none of the cleared employees I worked with would even tell me what a SCIF was. I never saw it written down, and as the nephew of a man who designed and built wooden boats (40-50 footers like big cabin cruisers and commercial fishing vessels) I naturally assumed they meant “skiff” and I really didn’t get why they had to talk about secret stuff on a boat. The non-cleared PMs filled me in; so much for “security by obscurity”

        I did have a great big document that listed the TLAs they used, and I had a laugh when someone told me “TLA” was a TLA for TLA. Everything at IBM had a TLA, though DoD blew through three letters long ago.

        But, yeah, Nauta would be completely lost.

        • bidrec-gap says:

          A friend in the Navy was stationed in Guam. He was transferred before the end of his tour. He had too many Guamanian friends. They said he had “gone native”.

          Famous Conservative Bill Buckley tried marijuana. When asked why he would break the law he said he did not break the law. He was on his boat more than twelve miles from shore in international waters.

  7. Max404Droid says:

    Deep in the WaPo article about the $40 million the PAC has paid in legal fees, is this astounding admission:

    Trump advisers say that while they have occasionally recommended lawyers for employees, they have made no demands that those employees hew to the company line to have their bills paid. Some of those employees have given damning testimony, the advisers said.

    That is the first time I have seen ANY Trump-associated person, lawyer or otherwise, admit that there was something damnable done. Who are the “advisors” referring to? Taveras? Employee 5? This admission indicates a sizable crack in the dike, IMO.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Or it’s propaganda, overplaying the supposed lack of pressure on employees, when they’re actually applying intense pressure not to cooperate.

      The last sentence, for example, need have no relation to what comes before it. It implies that a consequence of a lack of pressure by Trump on his employees is that some employees have talked. It seems more likely to be an admission that they couldn’t stop them without getting caught at it. It also seems to focus attention on Trump’s supposed even-handedness – not one of his recorded character traits – to reduce the focus on that “damning testimony.”

      • Max404Droid says:

        Well, yes. There are other ways, however, to say “people are free to talk”. In this case they specifically raised the point “damning testimony.” Could have said “some employees have given testimony and there was no coaching involved” (or something like that). Of course they are telling the truth through the propagandistic fog: they are shitting bricks and the testimony IS damning.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          “Telling the truth” is a phrase I avoid using in regard to Trump. His handlers might be admitting the unavoidable, in order to manipulate it, but that’s not truth telling.

          “Damning testimony” fits into the hard to avoid admitting category, but as propaganda, it’s much stronger than your alternative.

  8. newbroom says:

    “he’s running to stay out of prison”
    I think he ‘won’ his Presidency to stay out of prison and it’s been an ongoing shitshow ever since.

  9. Amers says:

    Does Jack Smith’s purview include the fund raising for defense lawyers of Trump’s co-conspirators? When you mention the PAC investigation does that relate to just the stolen docs case or is that also relating to Jan6? One more question that may not be related is do you take in any of Caroline Wren’s social media presence, speaking of fund raising. Side not to Rayne, sorry I have forgotten the username I chose some time ago.

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    • emptywheel says:

      The PAC $$ joins the two cases and, I’ve argued, may be a useful tool for Smith as he uses people’s exposure in one case to get cooperation in the other.

      The basic argument is that Trump raised $$ between the election and Jan6 promising to do something about election security, but then spent it doing something else. DOJ successfully prosecuted the same pattern in Steve Bannon’s Build the Wall scheme.

      I suspect that all the questions about whether Trump really knew he lost are PRIMARILY about this side, not about proving obstruction, where it is nice to have but not necessary. That is, you would need to prove that when Trump claimed he was unfairly denied a victory, he knew he was lying. You still need to prove that he approved of that lie, but even in the public record there’s some proof of that.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Not a good precedent in this case to allow TFG to have out-of-the-ordinary access to the very classified information he’s accused of stealing and mishandling. Sort of guts part of the case.

    • RitaRita says:

      I see no reason to accomodate Trump. But if the judge were to find a compelling reason, could they build a temporary SCIF at Mar a Lago?

      One of the original sins of this case is Trump’s reckless handling of sensitive information. I can’t see DOJ letting the documents back into Trump’s hands without serious conditions regarding security.

      I wonder if Nauta and Trump are trying to tee up an allegation that the FBI/DOJ planted documents.

      • PeteT0323 says:

        I recall it being suggested – somewhere – that the “audio room” that De Oliveira and Tavares had their off camera chat was formerly the SCIF at Mar-a-Lago. But I have to think that even reconstituting a SCIF at Mar-a-Lago would be met with great opposition by Smith and many others in the NatSec space.

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        I believe there was a scif at mar-a-lago, but it was decommissioned at the end of his term. I think Marcy referred to it recently as the sound-proof room or something like that, if you wanted to search for her reference. I have no idea if they would do such a thing for him now (I wouldn’t if I was the government), but there is a space there that could, I presume, be easily spun back up into service.

        • Accidentalist says:

          The term in the superseding indictment is ‘audio closet’. Page 29, Para. 84.

          Located near the White and Gold Ballroom, I think it’s less an ex-SCIF, and more a room with a bunch of, well, audio gear in it. For storage, recording, mixing, playback, etc.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Whether it was the audio closet or not, there was a SCIF at MAL when Trump was president. But as he’s no longer president, and is about to be tried for gross violations of the rules pertaining to the proper handling of classified records, it would be remarkably foolish to let him have another one at MAL.

        • Shadowalker says:

          There is absolutely no reason those docs should be anywhere near Mara-a-Lago. He’s no longer Commander-in-Chief (CiC). Having them in his private residence, SCIF or not, is totally unnecessary. He can view them in the SCIF located in the Federal courthouse that was set up for that purpose.

      • jdmckay8 says:

        could they build a temporary SCIF at Mar a Lago?

        Disclaimer: IANAL.

        There’s one set of classified docs. So there cannot be 2 simultaneous locations. Hard to imagine what you suggest outside of a Chapelle skit. Trump is not an esteemed colleague, he is a criminal defendant. It would almost be comical to see Smith and his team showing up at MAL in bullet proof limousines to spend some quality time in the MAL SCIF.

        • CJCJCJCJ says:

          There’s one set of classified docs, but there are multiple physical copies of those documents. Creating another copy for the defense to review at MAL is not impossible, though it may well be inadvisable.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Nauta is not determining defense strategy. He should have a lawyer not paid by or loyal to Trump and not dependent on him for so much of his income.

      • P J Evans says:

        I can’t see the need for one. The case isn’t about the content of the docs, but the possession of them.

        • EuroTark says:

          Trump’s part of the case is about the contents, specifically if they’re National Defense Information. As Nauta is only charged with obstruction (so far), the contents aren’t relevant for him, as you say

  11. Yogarhythms says:

    Thank you and all of the moderators especially the one from the hottest state in the US. If I speculate as to Walt’s perspective and my counsel says you need access to evidence “all of the evidence”. I shake my head yes. Woodward’s challenge to DOJ’s protection motion will delay proceedings which makes the Boss happy. AC doesn’t have to rule so much as say “ there doesn’t seem to be a meeting of the minds here but you are making progress. So continue to confer and come back in two weeks.

  12. jdalessandro says:

    Another set of stupid questions, but I’m sure this has occurred to others: what if Woodward simply, well, breaks down? Aside from the appalling number of conflicts, which to my lack of knowledge appears unprecedented, what if he simply cannot competently go forward and present a defense for all of these disparate defendants? Where is the end of this; could he represent another ten defendants? I remember in the civil context – a wholly different matter, I understand — where attorneys in huge white shoe firms were precluded from certain representations [say, a med mal plaintiff] because an associate in the same firm had once represented an opposition party [say a doctor], for something, anything. In view of these much more significant conflicts, at what point can a Court refuse a defendant the Trump-funded counsel ‘of his choice’? At some point it becomes a mechanism for ensuring that this matter drags on for years, well beyond the next election and into the next, now that we seem to be adding defendants as we go along thanks to Trump’s insistence on continuing to be Trump. The good faith or lack thereof by the Judge becomes irrelevant at a certain point, no? I keep thinking that Trump is one more crime away from crashing the whole system. As the man said, flooding the zone with shit. There is an ethical rule in NY, as in most jurisdictions, that is a violation of the canons for an attorney to accept more work than he can competently handle.
    Are we not at that point yet? What am I overlooking?

    • emptywheel says:

      LOL. We’re likely to see some of that aired this week with John Pierce, one of the two attorneys who has WAYYYYY more Jan6 clients than he can handle, on top of not being a defense attorney in the first place. He was tweeting out threats to the judges and DOJ in the last few days and I expect it to be aired before Judge Boasberg.

      Woodward, at least, IS a defense attorney, and has maybe half as many as Pierce does (albeit almost all very complex).

      • SaltinWound says:

        Woodward being overextended already led to a problem when he was late for McFadden’s courtroom. And didn’t he use one of his other cases to ask for more time from Cannon?

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Unless I misread, McFadden seemed to blame Woodward’s lateness on the prosecutors.

        • SaltinWound says:

          We didn’t hear the conference when the prosecutor showed up. In any event Woodward’s commitments made scheduling tight.

      • Peterr says:

        How does that old legal saw go?

        If the facts are against you, argue the law.
        If the law is against you, argue the facts.
        If both are against you, pound the table.

        Pierce seems to have added another line: “If pounding the table doesn’t work, threaten the judge. Repeatedly.”

        Yeah, that’s a really good move on Pierce’s part.

  13. marc sobel says:

    I love the plural usage Matthews Calamari in “he likely has testimony that could implicate the Matthews Calamari, key players in Trump’s corporate empire.”

    • Purple Martin says:

      Given that the Nauta/De Oliveira subset of charges and issues involved is much simpler than Trump’s, and that most of that subset’s pre-trial actions are already well underway (not to mention eliminating the whole thing about putting an ex-president on trial)…might not the Special Counsel’s response be:

      OK, so how about we follow Speedy Trial rules and schedule their trial for next week?

      Well, not really next week, but certainly within 70 days. Seems that might serve to wonderfully focus the defendants’ attention on their own interests.

      • jecojeco says:

        Letting the two henchmen twist in the breeze might provide time for them to reconsider and better their positions in life by making nice with the prosecution, esp if a succession of indictments against trump wear him down- and they will.

  14. Former AFPD says:

    The conflicts of interest issue again arises. This was a topic of discussion when Evan Corcoran was representing TFG in the litigation challenging the search warrant. I wondered why the prosecution wasn’t seeking to have Corcoran disqualified from representing TFG due to a violation of the attorney-witness conflict of interest rule – a lawyer is precluded from representing a client against whom he is also a witness. I wondered in the back of my mind whether the prosecution might not be litigating this issue because they were letting Corcoran unwittingly (to him, anyway) gather evidence due to this conflict, which also ultimately ran afoul of the crime/fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege. That seems to be what happened to Mr. Corcoran. He became a witness against his client in grand jury proceedings. The government usually files a Motion to Determine Conflicts of Interest when issues of potentially conflicted counsel arise. I am not aware of any such motion having been filed in the TFG litigation. Is anyone else? It looks like the government may be allowing these lawyers to continue, even where they should be on notice that there’s a conflict, and that conflict might have evidentiary value. Thoughts?

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, we don’t know what led to the conflict review with Taveras.

      As far as is public, Corcoran’s partners forced him to recuse from the DOCUMENTs case. Not sure if he’s still on the rest, which as I keep noting, are overlapping.

    • SonofaWW2Marine says:

      This is old, & perhaps poorly remembered, hearsay, but my general impression of the Department’s experience with motions to determine conflicts, at least in garden-variety cases, is that US District Judges did not much like them. A conflict had to be pretty blatant before most judges would find that it precluded the allegedly informed consent of a defendant. It didn’t have to be quite the level of Sammy the Bull Gravano v. John Gotti, but that was the model we tended to keep in mind. And if Chief Judge Boasberg is making those calls, the Special Counsel’s Office knows — especially from his days as Chief Judge of the FISA Court! — that he will not cut the prosecution any slack. So, even beyond the constraints of this uniquely high-profile case, they have good reason to tread carefully.

      • emptywheel says:

        I think there are two questions: Is there a conflict. There is, undoubtedly, here, as Woodward has one client who is a key witness against another.

        The other is what kind of informed consent are these people getting. I’m not sure whether Nauta has gotten that.

        • Doctor Cyclops says:

          What about Taveras? Wouldn’t subjecting him to cross examination by his former lawyer represent a betrayal of the attorney-client relationship?

  15. 90’s Country says:

    Seems like forever I’ve seen the initials TFG but still don’t know what they stand for. I made a living in country music, after all. Somebody help please.
    Great discussion, this one. Only voice missing is the Curmudgeon in Chief. It’s especially interesting when you respond to observations and questions, Marcy.

  16. harpie says:

    Marcy, re: the update about TRUMP EMPLOYEE 5.
    In paragraph 81 this employee is introduced as a valet

  17. El Duderino_MustChangeName_30JUL2023_1410h says:

    I am confused as to how DC Chief Judge Boasberg would make a conflict determination (as postulated) for a case located in SD FL.

    Bonus question: DOJ learned of the meeting that included head of the PAC along with the writer and publisher of Meadows memoir. How on earth could they have learned of this meeting if not for Meadows offering it up during a proffer session? What is a better explanation for DOJ uncovering this other than Meadows’ sharing it?

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    • emptywheel says:

      If Taveras testified before a grand jury in DC, then he’s on the hook for perjury there. After getting a target letter, he may have decided to clean that up, in which case the venue would be DC.

  18. bgThenNow says:

    This has been a great read, Marcy and all. Thanks to everyone, this is a great hang out.

    I wonder the same about what Nauta has been told. He is so close to power. It’s a tough spot, the cult is strong. We all think we know what we would do.

    I saw Oppenheimer at IMAX. My first time and up close. In many ways. People in power make most of the decisions. BOOM. Sometimes our voice matters.

    • Peterr says:

      If you go up to section 109.3, the Definitions, the coordination language you cite applies solely to producing “communications” (ads, mailers, phone bank operations, etc.). The candidate can’t ask the committee to make them, tell them where to target them, etc., and the committee can’t ask the candidate about them either.

      Nothing in section 109 applies to the payment of legal fees.

      • Connor Lynch says:

        You’ve misread 109.3—it only provides a definition of “agent,” and even then only agents of political candidates/party committees—not PACs. which would be useful for figuring out who, specifically among those working for Trump’s campaign, would be forbidden from coordinating spending with the PAC. It’s defined in terms of what they have authority to do. It’s irrelevant because candidate Trump himself is the one doing the coordinating, according to the indictment.

        “For the purposes of 11 CFR part 109 only, agent means any person who has actual authority, either express or implied, to engage in any of the following activities on behalf of the specified persons:”

        The relevant definition is “coordinated.”

        “Coordinated means made in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate’s authorized committee, or a political party committee. For purposes of this subpart C, any reference to a candidate, or a candidate’s authorized committee, or a political party committee includes an agent thereof.”

        They probably picked up on this because it sounds like legal spend will now be handled by a different entity.

        • Peterr says:

          And the “activities” mentioned in that line you quoted from the top of 109.3 are spelled out in the two subsections that follow:

          a. In the case of a national, State, district, or local committee of a political party, any one or more of the activities listed in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(5) of this section:

          1. To request or suggest that a communication be created, produced, or distributed.

          2. To make or authorize a communication that meets one or more of the content standards set forth in 11 CFR 109.21(c).

          3. To create, produce, or distribute any communication at the request or suggestion of a candidate.

          4. To be materially involved in decisions regarding:

          i. The content of the communication;

          ii. The intended audience for the communication;

          iii. The means or mode of the communication;

          iv. The specific media outlet used for the communication;

          v. The timing or frequency of the communication; or,

          vi. The size or prominence of a printed communication, or duration of a communication by means of broadcast, cable, or satellite.

          5. To make or direct a communication that is created, produced, or distributed with the use of material or information derived from a substantial discussion about the communication with a candidate.

          b. In the case of an individual who is a Federal candidate or an individual holding Federal office, any one or more of the activities listed in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(6) of this section:

          1. To request or suggest that a communication be created, produced, or distributed.

          2. To make or authorize a communication that meets one or more of the content standards set forth in 11 CFR 109.21(c).

          3. To request or suggest that any other person create, produce, or distribute any communication.

          4. To be materially involved in decisions regarding:

          i. The content of the communication;

          ii. The intended audience for the communication;

          iii. The means or mode of the communication;

          iv. The specific media outlet used for the communication;

          v. The timing or frequency of the communication;

          vi. The size or prominence of a printed communication, or duration of a communication by means of broadcast, cable, or satellite.

          5. To provide material or information to assist another person in the creation, production, or distribution of any communication.

          6. To make or direct a communication that is created, produced, or distributed with the use of material or information derived from a substantial discussion about the communication with a different candidate.

          Every single one of those prohibited activities is communications-related.

  19. sohelpmedog says:

    One can feel sorry for Nauta. However willingly he served (serves) Trump, he appears to be a captive. There should be a Gofundme page to raise $ for him to hire his own competent lawyer.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      If there’s money to be made off of this, trump’s already in on it. Expect to see a bunch of these types of appeals where the $s are funneled back to trump, family, friends, and foreigners.

    • Matt___B says:

      There should be a Gofundme page to raise $ for him to hire his own competent lawyer.

      Maybe that GFM money would be better spent on a competent cult deprogrammer…

  20. Mike Stone says:

    Taveras was served with a target letter and decided to get another attorney and testified. He apparently is not charged with any crimes.

    Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira are undoubtedly watching this play out and have to be thinking: “am I willing to go to jail for years for my boss?”

    My guess is that Carlos De Oliveira cracks first.

    • emptywheel says:

      There’s a non-zero chance he took a plea deal. That would explain why it all happened in DC, if it did.

  21. Ewan Woodsend says:

    I wonder why they wanted to check if Carlos de Oliveira was “good”, out of all people. Just basic racism? I would think Waltine Nauta, who swore an oath to serve his country, would be just as likely to talk to the DOJ : his income doesn’t come from the Trump Organization, whereas Carlos de Oliveira’s paycheck is signed by Trump. The IT guy who changed his mind can work somewhere else. Carlos de Oliveira is 56 and he is a property manager : how likely is he to find another equivalent job? His interest is that Trump gets away with whatever.

  22. Splcgirl says:

    Tonight I learned so much! So thank you, Marcy and almost everyone for the illuminating reporting, analysis, and discussion.I read emptywheel regularly, but am sometimes confused. By providing trackback links, I review information from previous posts, information that now snaps into focus.
    I particularly appreciate the comparison between Watergate and our Current Mess — the more matters unfold, the more it seems that Merrick Garland’s and Jack Smith’s plodding and/or thoroughly scrubbed methods show the wisdom of experience (Oklahoma City bombing conviction) and extraordinary ability to play multidimensional chess. Thank you, everyone, for this Best of All independent columns (newsletters?) — we are so lucky to be afforded the freedom to produce and to learn from it, sometimes as we write.

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