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Lawyer for witness in Trump docs probe alleges prosecutorial misconduct

In a letter filed under seal, the lawyer for Trump’s butler and body man alleged that a top DOJ official brought up his application for a judgeship in D.C. at a meeting in October.
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A lawyer for Donald Trump’s butler and body man — whose legal bills are being paid by a Trump political organization — is alleging in court papers that a key prosecutor in the classified documents case inappropriately sought to pressure him by bringing up his application for a judgeship in Washington, D.C., a source familiar with the matter told NBC News on Thursday.

The lawyer, Stanley Woodward, represents Walt Nauta, who is under scrutiny by investigators over his shifting accounts of whether he moved boxes of documents at the former president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida at his urging.

The source said that in a letter filed under seal with the chief federal judge in Washington, Woodward alleged that Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s chief of counterintelligence, raised the issue of the judgeship at a meeting in October at the Justice Department, where prosecutors were trying to convince Woodward that Nauta had lied and should cooperate in the investigation. Bratt has been working for more than a year on the classified documents case.

The allegation was first reported by The Guardian. Woodward did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

The source said Woodward’s allegation could raise questions about any prosecution of Nauta, a military valet in the Trump White House who went to work for the former president at Mar-a-Lago, adding that the Justice Department appears to be taking the allegation seriously and plans to respond to the judge.

The source said Woodward alleges that Bratt had with him a folder of information related to Woodward’s bid for a judgeship and told him, “I didn’t take you for a Trump guy.”

“The implication was that the judge thing would go badly for him if his client didn’t cooperate,” the source said.

Records show that Trump’s Save America PAC has paid fees to Woodward and his partner, Stan Brand, who represent a number of witnesses in the special counsel investigations. Brand has said there is nothing inappropriate about that.

Even if Woodward’s allegations are true — the Justice Department is expected to dispute them — legal experts say it is not clear they would have an impact on any possible prosecution of Trump, who announced his White House bid in November. But the allegation is consistent with a strategy by Trump’s legal team to raise questions about prosecutorial tactics.

On Truth Social, his social media platform, Trump alleged that the prosecutor sought to “bribe & intimidate” the lawyer by offering an “important judgeship” in the Biden administration if his client “flips” on Trump. That does not match how the source described Woodward’s allegations.

Special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into Trump appears to be nearing its end. Trump’s attorneys were told Monday at a meeting with prosecutors at the Justice Department that included Smith that Trump is a target of the classified documents investigation, said two sources briefed on the meeting.

People who have been informed that they are targets of criminal probes are often, but not always, indicted.

Trump wrote Wednesday on Truth Social, “No one has told me I’m being indicted, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong."

Attorney General Merrick Garland in November appointed Smith as special counsel in the documents investigation and another probe centered on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. In the documents probe, Smith has been tasked with investigating the handling of sensitive documents that were taken from the Trump White House, “as well as the possible obstruction of that investigation.”