WASHINGTON — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan is demanding documents from the Justice Department after a lawyer representing a defendant in the Donald Trump classified documents case alleged that a key prosecutor had attempted to pressure him inappropriately.
The attorney, Stanley Woodward, represents Walt Nauta, the former president’s aide and co-defendant who is charged alongside Trump with conspiring to obstruct government efforts to recover classified documents.
In a letter sent Thursday to Special Counsel Jack Smith and first obtained by NBC News, Jordan cited reports that Woodward felt pressured to cooperate with Smith’s office. Woodward alleged that in a meeting last fall at the Justice Department, Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s counterintelligence chief, who was part of the special counsel’s team, raised the issue of Woodward’s candidacy for a Superior Court judgeship in Washington, DC. Woodward said during the meeting, prosecutors were trying to convince him that Nauta had lied and that he should cooperate with the investigation. Woodward detailed the encounter in a letter filed under seal with the Chief Federal Judge in Washington.
Jordan said in his letter that Bratt was “once again seeking to induce Mr. Nauta to cooperate by attacking the representation of Mr. Woodward”, alleging there was a conflict of interest because Woodward also represented two other witnesses. who may be called to testify.
“Bratt’s attempt to intimidate Mr. Nauta into cooperating, first by extorting his attorney and then alleging a conflict of interest that excludes his attorney from the case, seriously challenges your team and your ability to remain impartial and uphold the ministry’s mission,” Jordan wrote.
Woodward and Bratt met at the Justice Department when prosecutors were seeking Nauta’s cooperation. Nauta was under intense scrutiny at the time due to his changing accounts of moving boxes containing classified documents to Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
When Woodward arrived, Bratt warned that Nauta should cooperate “because he had given potentially contradictory testimony that could give rise to misrepresentation,” Jordan wrote in the letter.
A source said in June that Woodward alleged that Bratt had a folder of information relating to Woodward’s candidacy for a judgeship with him and told him, “I didn’t take you for a Trump guy.”
Jordan requests correspondence and documents related to Woodward’s discussions with prosecutors about his representation of Nauta, Woodward’s candidacy for a Washington court judgeship, and communications between senior Justice Department officials related to multiple past and current Woodward clients implicated in the government investigation.
Jordan asked Smith to provide the requested documents before the close of business on September 21.
The special prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the letter Thursday. Woodward and Jordan’s office also declined to comment.
The letter is the latest action in a stepped-up effort by House Republicans to investigate the Justice Department’s handling of high-profile cases. On Wednesday, the chairs of three House committees demanded records from Hunter Biden’s legal team detailing months of difficult negotiations with federal prosecutors over a failed plea deal with the president’s son.
Jordan has defended Trump against his criminal charges and investigated several of the investigations that led to the four indictments he faces.