An attorney who represents former President Donald Trump’s valet, who is under scrutiny as part of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation, alleged in a letter that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor handling the case engaged in misconduct that is reportedly “being viewed as a problem,” within the DOJ, according to The Guardian.
Smith’s investigation is looking into Trump’s handling of White House documents, some of which were found during the raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Walt Nauta, a Mar-a-Lago valet, is under scrutiny as part of the probe as prosecutors reportedly suspect he helped Trump conceal classified documents that had been subpoenaed.
Last November, DOJ counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt summoned Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, for a meeting at DOJ headquarters regarding “an urgent matter that they were reluctant to discuss over the phone,” The Guardian reported, relying on a letter filed under seal with the chief U.S. Judge in Washington, DC, James Boasberg.
During that meeting, Bratt allegedly brought up Woodward’s application to be a superior court judge in Washington, DC, when trying to gain Nauta’s cooperation in the investigation.
The meeting between Bratt and Woodward occurred after Nauta had already spoken with prosecutors as part of their investigation into the former president.
As The Guardian reported:
Nauta should cooperate with the government because he had given potentially conflicting testimony that could result in a false statements charge, the prosecutors said according to the letter. Woodward is said to have demurred, disputing that Nauta had made false statements.
Bratt then turned to Woodward and remarked that he had not taken Woodward to be “a Trump guy” before noting that he knew Woodward had submitted an application to be a judge at the superior court in Washington DC that was currently pending, the letter said.
The allegation, in essence, is that Bratt suggested Woodward’s judicial application might be considered more favorably if he and his client cooperated against Trump. The letter was filed after Trump’s lawyers submitted a motion on Monday seeking grand jury transcripts, because of what they viewed as potential misconduct.
The Guardian’s report recognized that Bratt’s mention of Woodward’s judicial application could have been his attempt at making “small talk.”
However, Guardian reporter Hugo Lowell spoke with multiple people inside the DOJ who told him, “This incident with Jay Bratt is widely known inside the National Security Division and is being viewed as a problem.”
“Unclear whether it affects the Mar-a-Lago investigation but the chief judge in Washington has ordered briefings,” Lowell added.
NEW: Multiple people from DOJ telling me that this incident with Jay Bratt is widely known inside the National Security Division and is being viewed as a problem. Unclear whether it affects the Mar-a-Lago investigation but the chief judge in Washington has ordered briefings. https://t.co/k0DSdEi4PQ
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) June 8, 2023
Reports of Bratt’s alleged misconduct came the same week that Timothy Parlatore, a former Trump defense attorney, accused prosecutors working on the special counsel’s investigation of crossing a “red line” during grand jury proceedings.
In a statement after his testimony before the grand jury, Parlatore said it was “clear that the government was not acting appropriately and made several improper attempts to pierce privilege and, in my opinion, made several significant misstatements to the [grand] jury, which I believe constitutes prosecutorial misconduct.”