Monday, 28 August 2023

Biden staffers met with special counsel Jack Smith's aide ahead of Trump indictment, raising concerns about possible election interference: Report

 Weeks prior to former President Donald Trump's indictment for allegedly handling documents much in the same way President Joe Biden is said to have done, elements of the Biden White House reportedly met with a top aide for special counsel Jack Smith — an aide who happens to have been one of the loudest voices in support of a raid on Mar-a-Lago.

The news of this curiously timed meeting has prompted additional concerns over whether the Biden administration and the Department of Justice might have colluded in an attempt to eliminate the Democratic president's top political rival from the running ahead of the 2024 election. 

The New York Post reported that White House visitor logs indicate that Jay Bratt, the head of the DOJ's counterintelligence division who joined the special counsel team in November 2022, met on March 31, 2023, with Caroline Saba, deputy chief of staff for the White House counsel's office. 

BlazeTV host Mark Levin highlighted that "Bratt is the senior DOJ official who insisted on securing a warrant and sending an FBI SWAT team to Mar-a-Lago" and "stands accused by Stanley Woodward, who represents Walt Nauta in the documents case, of extorting him."

Bratt has also fought against transparency concerning the probe into Trump, having strongly opposed the release of the affidavit used to obtain the warrant to search Trump's Florida resort. 

An FBI agent at the Washington, D.C., field office joined Bratt and Saba at the 10 a.m. meeting.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, told the Post that Bratt was at the Biden White House for a "case-related interview."

The FBI declined to comment.

There is no publicly available transcript or other documentation concerning what was actually discussed during this meeting, noted Just the News.

Nine weeks after this meeting, Smith's office indicted Trump.

Although it was largely unknown at the time of the indictment that a top aide to the special counsel and a Biden staffer had touched base in advance, Republicans at the time nevertheless stressed that the DOJ had become weaponized against the Democratic president's opponents.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said, "Biden is attacking his most likely 2024 opponent. ... He's using the justice system to pre-emptively steal the 2024 election. This is what's happening, plain and simple."

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, "No one should be in doubt of what's happening tonight. Joe Biden and his cronies are trying to take out their chief political opponent.

Biden responded to the criticism, claiming, "I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bringing a charge or not bringing a charge. ... I'm honest."

Bratt's March rendezvous at the White House was hardly his first.

The Post reported that Bratt met with Saba in November 2021 around the time of Trump's vexatious negotiations with the National Archives concerning the documents he retained after leaving office. Bratt also came to Biden's stomping grounds in September 2021 to meet with an adviser to the White House chief of staff's office, Katherine Reilly.

Mike Davis of the Article III Project indicated Bratt's visits might constitute violations of long-standing rules about inappropriate communications with White House staff, as detailed in a July 21, 2021, memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland.

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

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, recently booked in Georgia over his alleged role in the election interference case, told the Post, "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. ... 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."

Mark Levin said that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing Trump's classified documents case, should order from the bench "that all records related to Bratt's meetings and discussions at the White House be preserved and provided to the court."

Levin further stressed that the "outrageous news" about Bratt's White House meetings "adds to the overwhelming case for a special counsel, as this not only creates the impression of a conflict of interest but a conflict of interest in fact. The Biden administration cannot be relied on to truthfully explain itself. The standard for appointing a special counsel — a qualified lawyer from outside the government — has been met, again!"

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