Biden officials met with special counsel Jack Smith's aide weeks before Trump indictment

Two months after the meeting, Smith's office issued its first indictment of Trump.

Published: August 27, 2023 2:07pm

A top aide to special counsel Jack Smith met with a member of the White House counsel's office and an FBI agent just weeks before Smith brought charges against former President Donald Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents, White House visitor logs show, causing conservatives to raise the alarm about possible coordinated efforts to target President Joe Biden's likely 2024 opponent. 

Jay Bratt, who joined Smith's team in November 2022, met on March 31, 2023, with Caroline Saba, the deputy chief of staff for the White House counsel's office. FBI Washington field office agent Danielle Ray also joined the meeting, per visitor logs reviewed Saturday by the New York Post.

Nine weeks after the meeting, Smith's office issued its first indictment of Trump.

Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said Bratt visited the White House for a "case-related interview," but he declined further comment.

Saba left the administration in May to attend law school, according to Politico.

Bratt, who leads the Justice Department's counterintelligence and export division, also met with Saba in November 2021 while Trump was negotiating with the National Archives about returning presidential records before a formal investigation had been opened.

Bratt also visited the White House in September 2021 to meet with Katherine Reily, a White House chief of staff advisor.

There is no publicly available information about the discussions that occurred in the meetings. 

"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," Rudy Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York City mayor, said, according to the Post.

"What’s happening is they have trashed every ethical rule that exists and they have created a state police. It is a Biden state prosecutor and a Biden state police," he also said.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said the meeting "raises obvious concerns about visits to the White House after [Bratt] began his work with the special counsel."

Turley also said: "There is no reason why the Justice Department should not be able to confirm whether this meeting was related to the ongoing investigation or concerns some other matter."

Attorney Stanley Woodward, who has represented multiple Trump aides, reportedly accused Bratt of misconduct in the case. 

The Guardian reported in June that the Trump attorney stated in a letter filed under seal that Bratt suggested Woodward's application to become a judge may be more favorably considered if he and his client, Walt Nauta, cooperated against Trump.

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