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Mar 20, 2023
House Republicans Demand Answers From Manhattan DA Over Trump Case
(Bloomberg) -- Republican leaders on Monday demanded that the Manhattan district attorney sit for an interview and provide documents as they began an investigation into his prosecution of Donald Trump over hush payments to an adult film star.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and two other committee chairmen sent a letter to Alvin Bragg asking about the use of federal funds to build his case against Trump, which Jordan called politically motivated, by Thursday.
“We’ll find out,” Jordan told Bloomberg News of Bragg’s use of federal dollars, following reports that he plans to indict Trump soon in relation to the payments made to Stormy Daniels.
Separately, some Republicans — including Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik — sent out campaign committee donor appeals seeking to raise funds off of the possibility Trump could be arrested, both urging supporters to stand with Trump.
Democrats later accused Jordan and other Republicans of an unprecedented abuse of the congressional powers to interfere with a criminal investigation by sending Bragg their letter seeking his testimony and documents.
“Former President Donald Trump demanded this nonsensical interference over the weekend, and these committee chairs have acted totally outside their proper powers to try to influence a pending criminal investigation at the state level,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, said in a statement.
Bragg is a locally elected official, but congressional Republicans say the potential use of federal funds for his inquiry gives them authority to investigate. Bragg’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As part of his Judiciary chairman duties, Jordan has been heading the House GOP’s new subcommittee on the “weaponization” of government. He is among the Republicans gathered with McCarthy in Orlando, Florida, for a House retreat.
“Your decision to pursue such a politically motivated prosecution — while adopting progressive criminal justice policies that allow career ‘criminals [to] run the streets’ of Manhattan — requires congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law- enforcement agencies,” Jordan wrote. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil of Wisconsin also signed the letter.
McCarthy said in a tweet Saturday that, “I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.” McCarthy reiterated his position on Sunday, saying Bragg is abusing his power.
Neither Jordan nor his aides offered more details of the probe or outlined what they expect to do if they find the Manhattan DA’s office has received federal funding. But Jordan said he believed it is clear that Bragg acting based on presidential politics.
“First it’s Russia, then it’s his taxes, it’s his business, then it’s his kids,” Jordan said in an interview with Bloomberg. “And what’s changed? He’s announced he’s running for president. That’s what’s changed. That’s why these guys are coming up with a sham case.”
Jordan also repeated a GOP theme that Bragg “has record crime in his district. You’ve got a district attorney that downgrades most of his cases to misdemeanor cases.”
Bragg has told his staff his office “will not tolerate” attempts to intimate or threaten the rule of law in New York, according to published reports.
Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Updates with House Republicans, Democrats, starting in fourth paragraph.)
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