The White House counsel’s office held a meeting with a top aide to Special Counsel Jack Smith just weeks before charges were brought against former President Trump. This has raised serious questions about potential coordinated legal efforts targeting President Biden’s likely opponent in the 2024 election.
According to White House visitor logs, Jay Bratt, a member of the special counsel team since November 2022, met with Caroline Saba, deputy chief of staff for the White House counsel’s office, on March 31, 2023. Danielle Ray, an FBI agent from the Washington field office, also attended the 10 a.m. meeting.
Nine weeks later, on June 8, 2023, Trump was indicted by Smith’s office.
This is not the first time Bratt has met with Saba at the White House. In November 2021, during Trump’s negotiations with the National Archives regarding the return of presidential records from his Mar-a-Lago estate, Bratt had a meeting with Saba. It is worth noting that at that time, no formal investigation had been opened.
Saba, who is not an attorney, left the White House in May to pursue a law degree.
Additionally, Bratt had a third meeting at the White House in September 2021, this time with Katherine Reily, an advisor to the White House chief of staff’s office. Unfortunately, the visitor logs do not provide any details about the content of these meetings.
Critics and legal experts have expressed concerns about the nature of these meetings. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a former top federal prosecutor, stated, “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.” Giuliani strongly believes that the White House and the special counsel are coordinating the prosecution of Trump.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley finds the March meeting particularly troubling, stating that it raises concerns about visits to the White House after Bratt began working with the special counsel. Turley believes the Justice Department should confirm whether the meeting was related to the ongoing investigation or if it pertained to another matter.
When asked about the March meeting, Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, said that Bratt was at the White House for a “case-related interview” but declined to provide further details. The FBI declined to comment on the matter as well.
A source with knowledge of the 2023 visit clarified that it was an interview with a career official who had also worked at the White House during the Trump administration. The same source stated that the 2021 visits were “national security related.”
Jay Bratt, a Harvard-educated attorney, has been a part of the Department of Justice for a significant period. Since October 2018, he has served as the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section in the national security division. This section focuses on investigating and prosecuting cases that impact the national security and foreign relations of the United States.
Bratt’s involvement with Trump extends beyond these meetings. In June 2022, he visited Mar-a-Lago to inspect storage facilities and personally interacted with Trump. Later that year, he became a leading advocate for the FBI raid on the property in August, as reported by The Washington Post.
In June, Stanley Woodward, a lawyer representing Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, who has also been charged by the special counsel’s office, accused Bratt of attempting to coerce his client’s cooperation by mentioning Woodward’s past application to be a judge. Woodward alleged that Bratt suggested his client’s cooperation might lead to a more favorable review of Woodward’s judicial application.
It is worth noting that Bratt is not the only Department of Justice official connected to Trump’s indictment. Matthew Colangelo, another longtime Department of Justice official, played a critical role in Trump’s indictment in New York City for alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Colangelo was recently hired into the office of Manhattan’s District Attorney Alvin Bragg in December 2022.
These developments raise important questions about the potential coordination between the White House counsel’s office, the special counsel, and the ongoing investigations into former President Trump. As the situation unfolds, it is crucial to ensure transparency and uphold the principles of justice and fairness.