Did special counsel Jack Smith use underhanded pressure tactics in his pursuit of former President Donald Trump? That’s the allegation being made by one of the lawyers involved in the case — and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wants answers.
In a letter to Smith mailed Thursday, Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, who leads the Judiciary Committee, demanded evidence relating to assertions one of his senior prosecutors “allegedly improperly pressured Stanley Woodward, a lawyer representing a defendant indicted by you.”
The accusations of impropriety stem from a meeting between Jay Bratt and Woodward — who represents one of the defendants in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, Walt Nauta — in which Bratt supposedly pressured Woodward “by implying that the Administration would look more favorably on Mr. Woodward’s candidacy for a judgeship if Mr. Woodward’s client cooperated with the Office of the Special Counsel.”
Jordan gave Smith until Sept. 21 to provide documents related to the allegations.
“In November 2022, when your prosecutors were trying to secure the cooperation of Walt Nauta—who is alleged to have ‘move[d] boxes of documents’ at Mar-a-Lago—prosecutors, including Mr. Bratt, summoned Mr. Woodward to a meeting at the Department’s headquarters for ‘an urgent matter that they were reluctant to discuss over the phone,'” Jordan said in the letter, obtained by Just the News.
“When Mr. Woodward arrived, Mr. Bratt threatened him that Mr. Nauta should cooperate ‘because he had given potentially conflicting testimony that could result in a false statement.’ Mr. Bratt commented that he did not take Mr. Woodward as a ‘Trump guy’ and indicated that he was confident that Mr. Woodward ‘would do the right thing,'” the letter continued.
Bratt then allegedly “referenced Mr. Woodward’s pending application for a judgeship on the D.C. superior court, implying that the Biden Administration would perceive Mr. Woodward’s application more favorably if Mr. Nauta was a cooperating witness for the Special Counsel against President Trump.”
Woodward then broke off communications with the Department of Justice, saying there would be no further discussions unless Nauta was charged or given an immunity deal.
Smith’s office didn’t stop there, Jordan’s letter alleges.
“After Mr. Woodward declined to give in to Mr. Bratt’s intimidation and coercion, Mr. Bratt once again sought to induce Mr. Nauta’s cooperation by attacking Mr. Woodward’s representation. On August 2, 2023, Mr. Bratt filed a motion in Mr. Nauta’s case raising alleged conflicts of interests presented by Mr. Woodward’s representation of two other witnesses “who could be called to testify at a trial in the case involving classified documents at Mar-a-Lago,'” the letter read.
“He further suggested that the court should ‘procure independent counsel’ to be present at the hearing ‘to advise Mr. Woodward’s clients regarding the potential conflicts.’ Mr. Woodward’s reply brief stated that Mr. Bratt’s intimidation threats were merely ‘an attempt to diminish the Court’s authority over the proceedings in this case and to undermine attorney-client relationships without any basis specific to the facts of such representation.’”
This could be critical because, as Just the News noted, Woodward also initially represented Yuscil Taveras, an IT worker at Mar-a-Lago.
After Taveras spoke with a public defender, he agreed to turn state’s evidence — which spared him a perjury charge, The Hill reported, and led to additional counts added to Trump’s indictment.
The letter asks Smith’s office to produce information related to three specific areas regarding Woodward.
First: “All documents and communications referring or relating to any appointment, meeting, or other visit by Mr. Woodward to the Justice Department, including the Office of the Special Counsel, concerning the representation of Mr. Nauta.”
Second: “All documents and communications between or among the Office of the Special Counsel, the Office of the Attorney General, or the Office of the Deputy Attorney General referring or relating to Mr. Woodward and his representation of individuals involved in the matters before you.”
Finally: “All documents and communications referring or relating to Mr. Woodward’s application to fill a vacancy on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.”
Whether or not this is a game-changer in any way, shape or form remains to be seen; arguably, the biggest impact might be the doubt it casts on whatever testimony Taveras gives against the former president, considering the stench of coercion could hang over it.
But then, if the stench of coercion hangs over part of the case, it could also spread to the entire proceeding — and, keep in mind, this is the case taking place in Florida, which tends to be Trump territory.
Even if legal pundits have been warning that the classified documents case presents the most trouble based on raw evidence in the indictment alone, if it turns out Smith’s special counsel team was using strong-arm tactics to get people to cooperate, he’ll face an uphill battle trying to establish credibility with a jury — and with voters, as well.