Jordan seeks interview with top prosecutor on Trump Mar-a-Lago case

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is asking a top attorney on special counsel Jack Smith’s Mar-a-Lago case to sit for an interview with the panel, the latest escalation of its probes into those prosecuting former President Trump.

A Thursday letter to Jay Bratt accused the prosecutor of raising the specter of impropriety by taking meetings at the White House.

The inquiry gets at the heart of a favored but unsubstantiated GOP claim: that there may have been coordination between the Biden White House and those working on Trump’s prosecution.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23, 2024.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 23, 2024.

Jordan’s letter homes in on three White House meetings Bratt took since the start of the Biden administration that he argues “raises, at the least, a perception of improper coordination.”

Two, however, were in 2021, before the National Archives alerted the Justice Department to the issues it was having recovering records from Trump’s time in office, a referral that did not come until February 2022.

Bratt’s third White House meeting, in March 2023, was related to the Mar-a-Lago probe, with The Washington Post previously reporting that the attorney met with a career White House staffer who had worked under both the Trump and Biden administrations to discuss the moving of boxes.

It is not uncommon for prosecutors to interview government workers at their offices.

Nonetheless, the matter has been a longtime focus for Jordan, who previously asked Attorney General Merrick Garland and White House chief of staff Jeff Zients about the meeting.

And it was also part of a request Jordan made to Smith’s team last December, asking the special counsel to turn over the bulk of his records about his prosecutions into Trump.

Thursday’s letter is addressed to Bratt directly, with Jordan writing that the lack of a response from the others left him “compelled to write to you directly to request your voluntary cooperation with our Constitutional oversight.”

The Justice Department (DOJ) declined to comment on the letter.

But Garland on Tuesday accused Republicans of “a long line of attacks” on the DOJ, including threats to defund the special counsel investigation while “career agents and prosecutors have been singled out just for doing their jobs.”

Jordan is focused not just on Bratt’s meetings, but also a claim from Stanley Woodward, an attorney representing Trump’s co-defendant in the case, Walt Nauta.

Court documents filed by Woodward said that while meeting with Bratt, the prosecutor noted he had been mentioned for a possible judge appointment. Bratt would later counter he was simply noting Woodward’s involvement with a commission that handles judicial nominations.

“Mr. Bratt followed up with words to the effect of ‘I wouldn’t want to do anything to mess that up,'” Woodward relayed.

The special counsel’s office has disputed Woodward’s summary of the meeting, with Bratt saying he was simply noting Woodward’s involvement with the Judicial Nomination Commission. Woodward was nominated to serve on the commission but was not yet on the board, creating a moment of confusion between the two attorneys.

“Bratt mentioned this to Woodward early in their meeting purely as a matter of professional courtesy and only to indicate to Woodward that he understood that Woodward must have a good reputation. Nothing more was intended,” Smith’s team wrote in court filings.

“Putting aside the details of this confusion, the prosecutors who participated in the meeting are clear that Bratt’s comments contained no threat or suggestion of any quid pro quo, and that the exchange was purely professional.”

Woodward raised the meeting in court in Florida last month in a broader argument seeking to toss Nauta’s charges due to prosecutorial misconduct. A member of Smith’s team called it a “garbage argument.”

Jordan, however, argues that “as indicated by defense lawyers and unsealed documents, you have engaged in a series of improper actions and unethical conduct that violate the Department’s duty to impartial justice.”

The letter asks Bratt to turn over a series of documents and communications about his White House meetings as well as any communications concerning Woodward.

The letter otherwise takes Bratt to task for how he’s handled Trump’s case, including that Trumps’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida was searched for the documents and that prosecutors asked Judge Aileen Cannon to clarify that Trump’s false statement that the FBI was authorized to “take me out” was a violation of his conditions of release.

“Your course of conduct continues to raise serious concerns about the abusive tactics of the Office of the Special Counsel and the Department’s commitment to impartial justice,” Jordan wrote.

The letter is one in a series of actions Jordan has taken in the wake of Trump’s guilty verdict in a New York case concerning his concealment of hush money payments made to an adult film star ahead of the 2016 election.

Jordan has called for holding back funding for the FBI as well as the limited federal funds given to local prosecutors. He also signed onto criminal referrals accusing Biden family members of lying to Congress.

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