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Did the DOJ Try to Bribe Trump Aide's Lawyer to Cooperate with Prosecutors Against 45?

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The attorney for an aide to former President Donald Trump claims a top Department of Justice official pressured him to compel his client to testify against Trump in exchange for favorable consideration of his job application for a D.C. judgeship.

The stunning allegation was reported June 8 by the U.K.’s Guardian, which cited “three people familiar with the matter.”

The outlet said Stanley Woodward — the attorney representing Trump’s co-defendant and aide, Walt Nauta — made the claim against Jay Bratt, the lead prosecutor in the federal case against the former president, in a court filing.

Bratt is the head of the DOJ’s counterintelligence division.

Nauta had worked as Trump’s military valet during his presidency and then retired from the Navy to become his personal aide after the 45th president left office.

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Former U.S. Attorney Will Scharf shared the Guardian’s story and added his insights Thursday in a lengthy Twitter thread where he torched the federal case against Trump as “outrageous and shocking.”

“Far and away the most troubling side story to emerge from this saga so far are the allegations made by Trump aide and co-defendant Walt Nauta’s lawyer last week,” Scharf tweeted. “You may have missed it if you blinked. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media has mostly buried this one.”

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He continued: “Nauta’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward, alleged in a court filing that during a meeting with prosecutors about his client’s case, the head of the Counterintelligence Section of DOJ’s National Security Division Jay Bratt “suggested Woodward’s judicial application [for a D.C. Superior Court judgeship] might be considered more favorably if he and his client cooperated against Trump.”

Scharf remarked: “If true, and I find it hard to believe that Woodward just made the whole thing up, this is wild misconduct. Truly wild. It could undermine the entire case against both Trump and Nauta. It could end careers at DOJ if fairly investigated.”

Essentially, Scharf suggested that the coercive inducement — which allegedly occurred in November 2022 — was tantamount to a bribe: a potential judgeship in exchange for damaging testimony against Trump.

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Scharf said he doesn’t personally know Woodward is well aware of his sterling reputation as a formidable attorney.

“He is a highly accomplished lawyer. Spent a decade at Akin Gump, a top law firm, clerked on the DC Circuit, and has very substantial experience in government investigations,” the former federal prosecutor tweeted.

“This is not some fly by night TV lawyer. He’s a real deal legal heavyweight, and he’s leveling an extremely serious allegation of misconduct against a senior official at DOJ.”

According to The Guardian, Woodward made the bombshell allegations last week in a sealed letter to James Boasberg, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“When Woodward arrived at the conference room, he was seated across from several prosecutors working on the investigation, including the chief of the counterintelligence section, Jay Bratt, who explained that they wanted Nauta to cooperate with the government against Trump, the letter said,” the June 8 report said.

“Bratt then turned to Woodward and remarked that he did not think that Woodward was a ‘Trump guy’ and that ‘he would do the right thing’, before noting that he knew Woodward had submitted an application to be a judge at the superior court in Washington DC that was currently pending, the letter said.”

The report continued: “The allegation, in essence, is that Bratt suggested Woodward’s judicial application might be considered more favorably if he and his client cooperated against Trump.”

The explosive claim has received little attention in the establishment media.

The Los Angeles Times mentioned it in passing in a column Wednesday by Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton and the senior legal affairs columnist for its Opinion page.

In the piece — headlined “Here’s Trump’s outlandish and dangerous plan to beat the classified documents case” — Litman said of the former president, “His team’s allegations of misconduct are exceedingly vague and scattershot.”

“The most concrete seems to involve a conversation between Justice Department lawyer Jay Bratt and Stanley Woodward, who represents Trump’s valet and co-defendant in the case, Walt Nauta,” he wrote. “Woodward has reportedly alleged that Bratt referred to his pending application to become a judge, the implication being that he was suggesting his vigorous representation of Nauta could jeopardize his judicial candidacy.

“It’s a dubious charge on the facts. The Criminal Division of the Justice Department has nothing to do with appointing judges, and Bratt seems far too experienced and respected for such a ham-handed intimidation attempt.”

While the allegation is as yet unproven, it’s the latest mind-boggling twist in a bizarre federal case against the former president and current Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential race.

These corruption accusations — as well as the fact that the sitting president has apparently weaponized the Justice Department to prosecute his main rival in an election — are scandalous and unprecedented.

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