There is fresh evidence of collusion between the Department of Justice and prosecutors who have brough charges against President Biden’s election rival Donald Trump during the 2024 presidential campaign.
In the weeks before Special Counsel Jack Smith filed charges against ex-President Trump for allegedly mishandling classified information, a leading member of Smith’s team met with an official from the White House counsel’s office, the New York Post reports.
This is providing more substantiation to the claim that there was a coordinated legal strategy targeting Biden’s probable challenger in the presidential election.
Jay Bratt, who became part of the special counsel’s team in November 2022, met with Caroline Saba, the deputy chief of staff for the White House counsel’s office, on March 31, 2023, according to White House visitor records. The meeting, which took place at 10 a.m., also included Danielle Ray, an FBI agent from the Washington field office. Trump was indicted by Smith’s office nine weeks later, on June 8, 2023.
Bratt, 63, had previously met with Saba in November 2021. At that time, Trump was entangled in discussions with the National Archives, who were requesting the return of presidential records stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate, even though a formal investigation had not yet commenced. Saba, who is not a lawyer, left her White House position in May to pursue a law degree.
White House records also show that Bratt had another meeting in September 2021, this one with Katherine Reily, an advisor to the chief of staff at the White House. The logs do not provide details on the topics discussed during these meetings.
The meetings have raised questions among legal analysts as to why Bratt was meeting with White House counsel’s office while being part of an ongoing investigation involving Biden’s expected Republican rival in 2024.
“There is no legitimate purpose for a line [DOJ] guy to be meeting with the White House except if it’s coordinated by the highest levels,” said former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a former SDNY prosecutor.
When asked if he believed the White House and special counsel were coordinating to prosecute Trump, Giuliani said: “You’re damn right I do.”
“What’s happening is they have trashed every ethical rule that exists and they have created a state police. It is a Biden state prosecutor and a Biden state police,” he said.
The former mayor was indicted last week in Fulton County, Georgia for his role in an allegedly illegal attempt to challenge the 2020 election results.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said the March meeting “raises obvious concerns about visits to the White House after [Bratt] began his work with the special counsel.”
“There is no reason why the Justice Department should not be able to confirm whether this meeting was related to the ongoing investigation or concerns some other matter,” he said.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, said only that Bratt was at the White House for a “case-related interview.”
A person with knowledge of the 2023 visit told the Post that it was “an interview of a career official who was also working at the White House during the Trump Administration.”
The same individual added that the visits were “national security related.”
Bratt, who holds a law degree from Harvard, has had an extensive career at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Since October 2018, he has led the counterintelligence and export control section within the DOJ’s national security division. This unit specializes in investigating and prosecuting cases that impact U.S. national security and international relations.
In his role, Bratt visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in June 2022 to examine its storage facilities and had direct interactions with Trump himself. Later, he became a strong proponent for the surprise FBI raid on the estate in August of the same year, according to the Washington Post. Stanley Woodward, an attorney representing Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta — who has also been indicted by the special counsel — accused Bratt of attempting to secure Nauta’s cooperation by alluding to Woodward’s previous judicial application.
According to a confidential document obtained by The Guardian, Woodward claimed that Bratt insinuated his prior application for a judgeship could receive favorable consideration if Nauta cooperated with authorities against Trump.
Bratt isn’t the only DOJ veteran linked to legal actions against Trump. Matthew Colangelo, another seasoned DOJ official, joined the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in December 2022 and played a key role in indicting Trump in New York for alleged payments made to silence adult film actress Stormy Daniels.