House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is seeking information about White House meetings with a lawyer working with special counsel Jack Smith’s office, fanning impartiality concerns regarding Smith’s prosecution of former President Trump.
Jordan on Tuesday sent letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and White House chief of staff Jeff Zients seeking information about communications between Jay Bratt — the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) chief of counterintelligence and export control who is also on the case concerning Trump’s retention of classified documents — and the White House, as well as all communications between the White House and the Justice Department relating to the special counsel investigation.
Jordan pointed to three instances that Bratt had meetings with White House officials: in September 2021, November 2021 and March 2023. He cited a New York Post story that relied on White House visitor logs.
Jordan raises issue with the 2021 meetings by noting that former President Trump’s lawyers were negotiating with the National Archives about obtaining his presidential records.
An unnamed source told the New York Post that those meetings were “national security related,” which a source with direct knowledge of the meetings confirmed to The Hill.
Jordan also highlights a March 2023 meeting with Bratt, White House office deputy chief of staff Caroline Saba and FBI agent Danielle Ray. A special counsel spokesman told the New York Post the meeting was for a “case-related interview,” and Jordan noted that it occurred nine weeks before special counsel Jack Smith indicted Trump on charges relating to retention of the documents.
“This new information raises serious concerns regarding the potential for a coordinated effort between the Department and the White House to investigate and prosecute President Biden’s political opponents,” Jordan said in his letters to Garland and Zients.
A source with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Hill that DOJ officials came to the White House to interview a witness who was a career employee at the White House and worked there during the Trump Administration, and that Saba was a junior assistant for the White House counsel’s office and facilitated the DOJ’s access to the building to conduct the interview. The source said that the interview was “entirely about events during the Trump years.”
Jordan then ran through an NBC News report about a lawyer for Trump’s butler alleging that Bratt improperly pressured him in an attempt to get his client to cooperate in the probe — alleging that Bratt brought up the lawyer’s application for a judgeship in Washington, D.C.
President Biden has repeatedly said that the Justice Department should operate independently, but House Republicans have focused heavily on what they allege to be the “weaponization” of the federal government to target political opponents on a variety of issues.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.