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The White House counsel’s office held a meeting with a top aide to Special Counsel Jack Smith and an FBI agent around two months before Smith charged former President Donald Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents.
Smith’s top aide, Jay Bratt, met with Caroline Seba, deputy chief of staff for the White House counsel’s office, on March 31, according to White House visitor logs, the New York Post reported. Danielle Ray, an FBI agent in the Washington, D.C., field office, also joined Bratt and Seba at the meeting.
Trump was indicted on June 8 in the classified documents case that Smith was appointed to oversee as special counsel. The visitor logs don’t provide any information on what was discussed at the meeting between Smith’s aide, the White House counsel’s office, and the FBI, but former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said this looks like a coordinated prosecution of the former president, who is also Biden’s chief political rival.
“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 said, according to the New York 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,” the former New York City mayor added.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 40 counts relating to his handling of classified documents that were seized during an FBI raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Bratt reportedly visited the estate in June 2022, two months before the raid, and interacted with Trump. Bratt then pushed for a warrant for the unannounced raid on Trump’s property, according to The Washington Post. According to the report, Bratt’s temper flared during the meeting when he told FBI agents that they could no longer trust the former president or his lawyers.
Smith also indicted Trump on additional felony charges for his alleged role in seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election, pointing to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot as an “unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.” Smith was appointed special counsel in both the classified documents case and the 2020 election case by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told the New York Post that the meeting between Bratt, the White House, and the FBI “raises obvious concerns about visits to the White House after [Bratt] began his work with the special counsel.”
“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,” Turley said.
A spokesman for the special counsel told the Post that Bratt was at the White House “case-related interview,” and the FBI declined to comment on the meeting.