House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to special counsel Jack Smith after launching an inquiry into one of Mr. Smith’s top aides.
Mr. Smith was appointed special counsel last November on matters related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach events, and the Department of Justice has since brought cases against more than 1,000 citizens who were present at the Capitol that day. He is also prosecuting two criminal cases against former President Donald Trump, who is now campaigning for a 2024 presidential run.
The probe comes after the former lawyer of a witness in one of the Trump cases revealed in a new filing that he was threatened with prosecution by Mr. Smith’s office.
Stanley Woodward had been representing an unnamed “Employee 4” in the Mar-a-Lago case where President Trump is accused of allegedly mishandling classified documents; the employee previously testified no knowledge of deleting security footage, and later said otherwise. Mr. Woodward had claimed that the employee had been threatened with prosecution before he agreed to become a key witness.
Mr. Woodward no longer represents the employee but still represents Walt Nauta, a co-defendant in the case.
Mr. Jordan, in his letter (pdf), says his office has information that Jay Bratt, one of Mr. Smith’s senior prosecutors, “allegedly improperly pressured Stanley 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.”
The inquiry is part of the Judiciary Committee’s ongoing oversight of the Department of Justice, Mr. Jordan wrote, and the “attempt to inappropriately coerce Mr. Woodward raises serious concerns about the abusive tactics of the Office of the Special Counsel and the Department’s commitment in its mission to upload the rule of law and ensure impartial justice.”
Mr. Jordan is requesting all documents and communications concerning Mr. Woodward or concerning legal representation for Mr. Nauta by the end of the business day on Sept. 21.
Mr. Smith’s office was not immediately available for comment.
The event allegedly took place in November 2022, when Mr. Woodward was summoned for a meeting with Mr. Bratt. Mr. Woodward has alleged prosecutorial misconduct, claiming Mr. Bratt told him that he should get his client Mr. Nauta to cooperate because his testimony conflicted with another’s, and “threatened” him in saying that could result in his client making a “false statement.”
According to Mr. Woodward, Mr. Bratt said in the conversation that because he did not take him for a “Trump guy,” he was confident he “would do the right thing” and brought up Mr. Woodward’s application for judgeship in Washington, D.C.
Later, in August, Mr. Bratt had also filed a motion arguing there was a conflict of interest with Mr. Woodward representing both Mr. Nauta and potential witnesses the prosecution may want to call upon to testify in trial.
Conflict of Interest Hearing
In August, the special counsel’s office asked for a conflict of interest hearing, also known as a Garcia hearing, regarding legal representation for Carlos de Oliveira, the third defendant in the classified documents case.
The prosecution is saying that John Irving, who represents Mr. de Oliveira, is also representing three potential witnesses for the case. Both Mr. Irving and Mr. Woodward have asked that the hearing be a sealed hearing, arguing that evidence and witness testimonies from the prosecution’s grand jury in Washington, D.C., are now being used in a case being tried in Florida.
After an inquiry from Judge Aileen Cannon, the prosecution ended the grand jury in Washington.