The judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case has set special hearings for Donald Trump’s two co-defendants, Waltine Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira. The hearings come one year after Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, was criticized by an appeal court for her handling of a major part of the case against the former president. Legal experts have compared Cannon to a contestant on a cooking show who has only ever baked a pop tart.
Cannon, who sits on Southern Florida federal court, agreed to a Justice Department request to set “Garcia hearings” for Trump’s butler, Waltine Nauta, 41, and Trump’s property manager, Carlos de Oliveira, 56. In the upcoming hearing, set for October 12, Cannon will explain to the two defendants that there is a potential conflict in the case as their lawyers also represent people that the government wants to call as witnesses. Trump faces 40 counts in the classified documents case, including 32 counts of unlawful retention of national defense information; one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice; one count of withholding a document or record and one count of corruptly concealing a document or record. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Cannon, originally from Colombia, is a registered Republican who was appointed to her federal judgeship by the Trump administration. Lecturer and former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance said that Cannon could be facing similar criticism for her lack of reasoning in the conflict of interest case. She hasn’t even bothered to draft a written opinion to clarify her thinking, at least so far.
Peter M. Shane, adjunct professor of law at New York University, told Newsweek that Cannon does not have enough trial experience to handle a case of this magnitude. He doubts “another Eleventh Circuit scolding” will prompt Cannon to recuse herself from the Trump case. New York University law professor Stephen Gillers said that another appeal of a ruling by Cannon could open grounds for her to be removed from the case.