Republican House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan is launching a probe into Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office over an aide who allegedly “improperly pressured” a lawyer representing a defendant in former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case, he announced in a letter Thursday.
The investigation focuses on senior prosecutor Jay Bratt’s alleged effort to pressure Stanley Woodward, who represents Walt Nauta, former President Donald Trump’s co-defendant in the classified documents case. Bratt implied that the Biden administration would be more favorable towards Woodward’s application for a D.C. superior court judgeship if his client cooperated as a witness against former President Donald Trump, according to Jordan’s letter.
After this attempt failed, Jordan alleges that Bratt’s Aug. 2 court filing raising conflict of interest concerns regarding Woodward’s representation of two other witnesses “who could be called to testify at a trial” was a further attempt to coerce Nauta into cooperating.
— House Judiciary GOP 🇺🇸 (@JudiciaryGOP) September 7, 2023
“The Department’s mission is to ensure impartial justice by upholding the rule of law, requiring all Department employees—including Mr. Bratt—to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct,” Jordan wrote. “Mr. Bratt’s attempt to bully Mr. Nauta in cooperating, first by extorting his attorney and then by alleging a conflict of interest that precludes his attorney from the case, seriously calls into question your team and your ability to remain impartial and uphold the Department’s mission.”
The Committee is requesting documents and communications relating to meetings between Woodward and the Department of Justice, referring to Woodward or referring to his application for a judgeship, according to the letter.
Woodward previously represented Yuscil Taveras, who recanted his testimony after switching to a federal defender, providing information that led to a superseding indictment against the former president, Nauta and an additional co-defendant, Carlos de Oliveira, according to court documents.
Woodward wrote in a court filing Tuesday that prosecutors came to a cooperation agreement with Taveras where he agreed to testify in exchange for not being prosecuted on perjury charges. He said the agreement was not offered until Taveras got a different lawyer.
Jordan also launched an investigation into Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis after Trump was indicted along with 18 co-defendants on charges relating to an alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. Willis fired back Thursday, writing that his investigation was “flagrantly at odds with the Constitution.”
The DOJ declined to comment.
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