Both Patel and Nauta are represented by Brand Woodward Law, which according to public records has been paid more than $120,000 by Trump’s Save America PAC. Stan Brand, the top lawyer at the firm, said there is nothing improper about the PAC paying legal bills for witnesses in the investigation. Another lawyer not involved in the case, however, said it could encourage witnesses to not cooperate.“There’s no bar against third parties paying for legal fees as long as it’s disclosed to the client. The ethical obligation of the lawyer is to the client,” Brand said. “This is a tempest in a teapot and another cheap shot at these people because of who they work for.”
But Jim Walden, a former federal prosecutor, said the payment arrangement raises concerns about whether the reimbursement of legal fees may influence what the witnesses say or do. And he noted that if Justice Department officials have ethical concerns, they could ask a judge to, at a minimum, question the clients about whether they are certain their interests are being protected.