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Home High profile A collection of documents in the Mar-a-Lago case were made public by a judge, providing insight into Donald Trump’s accusation that a top prosecutor on Jack Smith’s team attempted to bribe a lawyer representing his co-defendant

A collection of documents in the Mar-a-Lago case were made public by a judge, providing insight into Donald Trump’s accusation that a top prosecutor on Jack Smith’s team attempted to bribe a lawyer representing his co-defendant


Documents made public revealed the origins of Trump’s claims that a top prosecutor on Jack Smith’s staff offered a “JUDGESHIP” to a lawyer representing Walt Nauta.

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Left: Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to the media about an indictment of former President Donald Trump, Aug. 1, 2023, at an office of the Department of Justice in Washington. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)/Right: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks Tuesday April 2, 2024, at a rally in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to the media about an indictment of former President Donald Trump on Aug. 1, 2023, in Washington. Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Green Bay, Wis. on April 2, 2024.

After a judge in the Mar-a-Lago case ordered the unsealing of documents on Monday, it became clear that Donald Trump's allegations about a top prosecutor offering a "JUDGESHIP" to a lawyer representing his co-defendant were rooted in a meeting that took place in August 2022.

The documents show that Trump's claim about the judgeship offer by Jay Bratt, a member of Jack Smith’s team, is not consistent with the arguments presented in court filings on the “allegations of potential misconduct” that have been revealed by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

On June 8, 2023, the Guardian reported… reported that Stanley Woodward, a new attorney for Trump valet Walt Nauta, was surprised to hear Bratt mention Woodward’s pending judicial application to the D.C. Superior Court while urging Nauta to cooperate with the government. The meeting took place around November of 2022, but documents indicate it occurred on Aug. 24, 2022.

As it happens, one unsealed filing illustrates, on June 5, 2023 — just three days before the Guardian report, which was released on the eve of the unsealing of the Mar-a-Lago indictment — Trump was secretly litigating in D.C. to obtain grand jury transcripts, including those of Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager and co-defendant Carlos De Oliveira.

Following the Espionage Act indictment, Trump withdrew the motion for disclosure, which was then denied as moot; however, the allegations against Bratt persisted. On June 8, 2023, just before the indictment's unsealing, Trump escalated the claims against Bratt on Truth Social.

He accused Bratt, without naming him, of attempting to "BRIBE & INTIMIDATE A LAWYER REPRESENTING SOMEONE BEING TARGETED & HARASSED TO FALSELY ACCUSE & FABRICATE A STORY ABOUT PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP & A CRIME THAT DOESN’T EXIST." The defense lawyer was Woodward and the client was Nauta, although they were not named in the post.

Trump even claimed that Bratt had “offered” Woodward a judgeship “IN THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION” (Note: the president appoints the judges of the D.C. Superior Court, which is different from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia).

Filings from the special counsel and Woodward indicate that the actual situation was significantly different from a direct offer of a judgeship to Woodward in exchange for Nauta’s cooperation.

Just a few days before Trump’s attorneys John Rowley and Jim Trusty left the case. exited the case, they filed the motion for disclosure claiming that Bratt’s remarks in the meeting indicated a possible exchange or a threat meant to make Mr. Woodward persuade his clients to cooperate with Mr. Bratt. quid pro quo or even a threat intended to cause Mr. Woodward to persuade his clients to cooperate with Mr. Bratt.

“In other words, ‘play ball or you have no chance of becoming a judge,'” as Rowley and Trusty described Bratt’s words in their motion in their motion.

However, Jack Smith mentioned that the allegedly inappropriate comments were not brought up for “more than nine months,” only surfacing after Trump and Nauta received target letters in May 2023.

“In the more than nine months that passed between the August 2022 meeting and the Disclosure Motion, Woodward himself never approached the Government or filed a claim in court arguing that any government attorney had acted improperly,” Smith said. “Because the Disclosure Motion, which was filed in a sealed grand jury matter that included only Trump and the Government, did not indicate whether Woodward endorsed its allegations, the Government, with leave from the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, provided Woodward with the relevant excerpts from the Disclosure Motion and sought his input.

Smith, mentioning that the claims were referred to the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility out of “an abundance of caution” at Bratt’s request, described Trump’s allegations as a “story” of “ridiculous” and “improbable” proportions, filled with “factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations.” The special counsel stated that it was “completely baseless” for the defense to suggest that the prosecutor with three decades of experience would casually threaten to retaliate over Nauta’s possible non-cooperation by somehow jeopardizing Woodward’s potential future on the D.C. Superior Court.

The special counsel then cited Woodward’s own account of what happened during the meeting in a D.C. letter to Chief U.S. District Judge James Boasberg dated June 7, 2023. While Woodward referred to Bratt’s words on Aug. 24, 2022 as “inappropriate” and called for further investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the defense attorney also stated that his support for Nauta “was not negatively affected by this discussion.

Woodward remembered Bratt saying something like “I wouldn’t want you to do anything to mess that up” — referring to Mr. Woodward’s potential nomination.

Woodward explained in a court filing of his own that he didn’t “correct” Trump’s Truth Social “narrative” about the alleged judgeship offer because he handles his cases in court. court filing of his own that he didn’t “correct” Trump’s Truth Social “narrative” about the purported judgeship offer because he fights his cases in court.

While Woodward confirmed the overall accuracy of the allegations about what Bratt said, Nauta’s lawyer wrote that he did not want to be “officially” interviewed by the special counsel about the meeting “out of fear of becoming a witness in one or more proceedings related to defense counsel’s representation of Mr. Nauta and others.

To summarize, Trump’s former lawyers used the term “quid pro quo” in a court filing that was confidential at the time to try to obtain his eventual co-defendants’ grand jury transcripts while knowing the former president was a target of prosecutors’ Mar-a-Lago investigation. Three days later, Trump went on Truth Social to accuse Bratt of attempting to bribe Woodward with a judgeship during a meeting that took place nine months earlier, a meeting Woodward never complained about — until Trump did. When Woodward did complain, he said the remarks made during the meeting were “inappropriate” but had not “negatively affected” the defense of his client. On the same day Trump posted about Bratt, Jim Trusty reported by CNN that the ex-president was charged in Florida. The next day, the charges were made public and Trusty and Rowley announced their resignations.

In court, Trusty cited cited “irreconcilable differences.” Outside of court, Trusty and Rowley said stated that it “has been an honor to have spent the last year defending” Trump, “and we know he will be proven innocent in his fight against the Biden Administration’s biased use of the American justice system.”

The former Trump attorneys said it was a “logical moment” for them to stop representing the ex-president.

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