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 tried to pressure him inappropriately.
The lawyer, Stanley Woodward, represents Walt Nauta, an aide to the former president and a co-defendant who is charged alongside Trump with conspiring to obstruct the government’s efforts to reclaim classified documents.
In a letter sent Thursday to special counsel Jack Smith and first obtained by NBC News, Jordan cited reporting that Woodward felt he was being pressured to cooperate with Smith's office. Woodward alleged that at a meeting last fall at the Justice Department, Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s chief of counterintelligence, who was on the special counsel's team, raised the issue of Woodward's application for a judgeship in Washington, D.C., Superior Court. Woodward said that at the meeting, prosecutors were trying to convince him that Nauta had lied and should cooperate in 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 "once again sought to induce Mr. Nauta's cooperation by attacking Mr. Woodward's representation," alleging that there was a conflict of interest because Woodward also represented two other witnesses who could be called to testify.
"Bratt’s attempt to bully Mr. Nauta in cooperating, first by extorting his attorney and then by alleging a conflict of interest that precludes his attorney from the case, seriously calls into question your team and your ability to remain impartial and uphold the Department’s mission," Jordan wrote.
Woodward and Bratt met at the Justice Department when prosecutors were seeking Nauta's cooperation. Nauta was under scrutiny at the time over his shifting accounts of moving boxes of classified documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
When Woodward arrived, Bratt warned that Nauta should cooperate “because he had given potentially conflicting testimony that could result in a false statement,” Jordan wrote in the letter.
A source said in June that Woodward alleged that Bratt had a folder of information related to Woodward’s bid for a judgeship with him and told him, “I didn’t take you for a Trump guy."
Jordan is requesting correspondence and documents related to Woodward’s talks with prosecutors over his representation of Nauta, Woodward's application for a judgeship on the Washington court and communications among senior Justice Department officials related to Woodward’s multiple past and current clients involved in the government’s probe.
Jordan asked that Smith supply the requested documents by the close of business Sept. 21.
The special counsel's office declined to comment on the letter Thursday. Woodward and Jordan's office also declined to comment.
The letter is the latest move in a stepped-up effort by House Republicans to probe 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 fraught negotiations with federal prosecutors over a failed plea agreement with the president’s son.
Jordan has defended Trump against his criminal charges and has been investigating several of the probes that have led to the four indictments he faces.