Risk Update

Public Conflicts — Trump Co-defendants Counsel Faces Conflicts Concerns,

Special counsel asks if Nauta’s attorney has too many Mar-a-Lago clients” —

  • “Special counsel Jack Smith has asked Judge Aileen M. Cannon for a hearing to discuss whether the lawyer who represents one of Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the classified documents case has too many conflicts to provide adequate legal advice to his client.”
  • “In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors said Stanley Woodward — the lawyer for Trump valet Waltine ‘Walt’ Nauta — has represented at least seven other clients whom prosecutors have interviewed about Trump’s alleged efforts to keep classified documents in defiance of the government’s demand they be returned. Two of Woodward’s clients could be called as government witnesses in the trial, the filing said.”
  • “‘The conflict may result in the attorney’s improper use or disclosure of the client’s confidences during the cross-examination,’ the filing reads. ‘The conflict may cause the attorney to pull his punches during cross-examination, perhaps to protect the client’s confidences or to ‘advance the attorney’s own personal interests.’”
  • “Smith asked Cannon to hold a hearing in which the judge would inform Nauta and the two witnesses, whose names have not been made public, of their legal rights and the potential conflicts their attorney poses. Lawyers are generally required to flag to a judge any potential conflicts of interest they encounter.”
  • “If there is a conflict, Nauta would be asked if he still wants Woodward to represent him and if he waives his right to conflict-free representation. Cannon should then determine whether to accept that waiver. Smith suggested that Cannon arrange for an independent lawyer to be at the hearing to advise Nauta and the witnesses if they want.”
  • “‘How is Woodward going to cross-examine the Trump employee when he is not waiving his rights?’ said Joseph A. DeMaria, a former federal prosecutor in Miami who now works as a private attorney.”
  • “The potential conflict highlights how a relatively small group of lawyers are representing a large share of the people entangled in Trump’s legal battles. In addition to the classified documents indictment, the former president was charged Tuesday with conspiracies in connection with the effort to overturn the 2020 election results. He also faces state charges of falsifying business records, and is under investigation in Georgia for trying to block Joe Biden’s victory in that state.”

Conflict of interest draws suspension for West Des Moines lawyer” —

  • “A lawyer who has spent two decades representing various Iowa cities and counties has agreed to a 30-day suspension of his law license due to admitted conflicts of interest.”
  • “In an affidavit filed with the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa, Brick acknowledges that while representing the city of Muscatine, he shared with the then-city administrator, Gregg Mandsager, information about the City Council’s plans to fire Mandsager. Brick also acknowledges he counseled Mandsager on how to set up the mayor and council for a claim of retaliation Mandsager could file against them.”
  • “Court records indicate that the situation grew out of a 2017 case in which a district court judge ruled the City Council had illegally removed the mayor, Diane Broderson, from office, and Mandsager filed a defamation lawsuit against Broderson and the city.”
  • “In April 2019, aware that some council members wanted him fired, Mandsager contacted Brick asking for advice about settling his defamation claim against the city. In his affidavit, Brick admits that he outlined a few options as to how the city administrator could proceed and then wrote, ‘Either way, you would want to make a big public statement about how much you look forward to working with the mayor and the council so you can set them up for a retaliation claim.'”
  • “Brick admits that in the months that followed, as the lawsuit was settled and the council moved forward with plans to fire Mandsager, he provided advice to the council but also continued to communicate with Mandsager, sharing information about the council’s plans and providing advice to Mandsager on how best to proceed with a lawsuit against his client, the city.”
  • “Despite that, Brick states in his affidavit, he wrote to a council member and assured him that if Mandsager was to ask for any legal assistance he would tell Mandsager he worked for the council and so Mandsager would need to obtain his own attorney.”
  • “Brick acknowledges that even as he provided such assurances to the council, he continued to give advice to Mandsager. At one point, Mandsager was watching a livestream of a council meeting and texting Brick at the meeting, asking Brick to address certain matters. ‘Hold on,’ Brick texted back, ‘I’m trying to save your job.'”
  • “A few weeks later, Brick admits, he texted Mandsager to alert him to the fact that one council member ‘just outed me as someone working behind the scenes on your behalf. I’m not sure any of them would be surprised by that, but it certainly makes it even less likely that they would take my advice.'”
  • “In his affidavit, Brick admits that when the council drafted, with Brick’s help, an order terminating Mandsager’s contract with the city, Brick didn’t tell the council that the order’s wording was, in his opinion, legally insufficient — but he did alert Mandsager to that fact.”
  • “In response to Brick’s affidavit consenting to a 30-day suspension, the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board agreed that such a penalty was warranted.”
  • “The board said Brick’s ‘more than 20 years of experience as an attorney’ and his ‘deliberate deception of his client’ were aggravating factors in the case.”