OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
The federal judge overseeing special counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents case against Donald Trump may have her first real challenge now that a witness has flipped.
According to Newsweek, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed, “should hold a hearing to discuss potential conflicts of interest among the lawyers involved in the proceedings, after a Mar-a-Lago employee flipped on the former president, a legal expert has said.”
Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now a legal analyst, was reacting to news that Yuscil Taveras, who is an IT director at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, has retracted “his prior false testimony” and is now claiming “the former president and two others charged in the classified documents case, Trump aide Walt Nauta and maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira, did take steps to delete security camera footage that had been sought by federal prosecutors.”
Trump, De Oliveira, and Nauta have all pleaded not guilty to all charges brought by Smith.
Trump has previously said on his Truth Social platform he never instructed anyone to delete any video footage and that everything the Justice Department requested was turned over.
The change of testimony from Taveras, revealed in court filings on Tuesday, arrived after the IT worker switched lawyers from one paid for by Trump’s PAC, Stanley Woodward, to one provided by the federal government.
Prosecutors had also raised similar concerns about John Irving, who is defending De Oliveira in the classified documents case, as he also represents others who may be called as witnesses in the trial.
According to Vance, Cannon ought to now hold a hearing to consider potential conflicts of interest with attorneys representing Nauta and De Oliveira.
“Tonight we learned that Trump employee no. 4 (now id’d as Yuscil Taveras) ‘flipped’ & recanted his earlier testimony he knew nothing about efforts to tamper with security footage at [Mar-a-Lago] after a judge let [him] confer with a fed’l public defender instead of his Trump-funded lawyer,” Vance posted on X, formerly Twitter.
Vance also posted a screenshot from her newsletter in which she had previously addressed the potential conflict of interest. She highlighted Woodward’s statement that he no longer represents Taveras and pointed out his suggestion that Cannon could disregard the evidence from the IT worker to prevent any conflict from arising.
“The last bit is a doozy—The lawyer said, ‘no problem here,’ just exclude the evidence my former client could offer & presto magic, no conflict. Now we know that’s Taveras, who told the truth after he got a new lawyer. It’s a ‘remarkable’ position, i.e legally unsupported,” Vance noted further.
“If Judge Cannon refuses to hold a hearing & advise Trump’s 2 co-defendants in the MAL case of the conflict, it would rival her earlier decisions for being so wrong legally, that there’d be serious consideration on appeal of her fitness to remain on the case,” Vance claimed.
Interestingly, Cannon has faced calls from the left to recuse herself from the case over allegations she would be partial to the man who appointed her. But there are no similar calls from Democrats concerning U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, the Obama-appointed DC circuit court judge overseeing Trump’s Jan. 6 case, or in Manhattan Fulton County, Ga., where the district attorneys are both far-left Democrats.
On Monday, Cannon tentatively canceled a hearing on a protective order for classified evidence in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.
In her ruling, Cannon stated that the proceeding would be held under seal at a later date “to discuss sensitive, security-related issues regarding classified discovery.”