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Mar 23, 2023
Manhattan DA Fires Back at Republicans’ Demand for Information on Trump Probe
(Bloomberg) -- Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office fired back at House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan’s demands for Bragg’s testimony and documents tied to his grand jury investigation into Donald Trump, calling them “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution.”
In a letter to the Ohio Republican on Thursday, Bragg’s general counsel said Jordan’s stance “treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states.”
The state grand jury Bragg impaneled in January is weighing the possibility of criminal charges against Trump over hush money payments made shortly before the 2016 presidential election to porn star Stormy Daniels to conceal an affair she says she had with Trump. Trump has denied the affair and called Bragg’s probe a political attack.
Read the DA’s letter here
Bragg said in a statement that his office “will not be intimidated” by House Republicans’ demand that he testify. Republicans, he said, are seeking nonpublic information about a criminal investigation and that the state grand jury is working in secrecy, which also protects Trump.
The Republicans’ “allegation that the DA’s office is pursuing a prosecution for political purposes is unfounded, and regardless, the proper forum for such a challenge is the courts of New York, which are equipped to consider and review such objections,” Bragg said.
Jordan said he’s reviewing Bragg’s letter, which included an offer of a meeting to discuss the demands.
The letter from the DA’s office stated such a meeting could determine “whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be accommodated without impeding those sovereign interests.” But the letter also dismisses the legislative purpose that Jordan and others have asserted so far, saying, “Federal Funding is an Insufficient Basis to Justify These Unconstitutional Requests.”
Jordan wouldn’t rule out issuing a subpoena for Bragg’s testimony.
“Nothing’s off the table,” he said.
Trump NY Grand Jury Is to Reconvene on Thursday Afternoon
Congress’s investigation of Bragg’s Trump probe appears to be “solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to ‘punish’ those investigated” and is therefore “indefensible,” the letter from the DA’s office says, citing a 1957 Supreme Court decision curbing Congress’s investigative powers.
Bragg said that just because the Manhattan investigation, “relates to a former President does not change this analysis,” he said. “Even Donald Trump has conceded that he is not immune from local criminal prosecution,” Bragg said, citing arguments Trump’s own lawyers made in an unrelated suit he filed against the Manhattan DA’s office.
A spokeswoman for Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky, who also signed the Republicans’ letter to Bragg, had no comment. There was no response from a third Republican, Committee on Administration Chairman Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, who sought Bragg’s testimony.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, tweeted Thursday that he “appreciated” the Manhattan DA’s “measured response to Jordan’s dangerous request.”
“Jim Jordan is out of control,” Nadler tweeted. “He’s trying to put his thumb on the scale for his friend Donald Trump by injecting MAGA politics into an ongoing criminal investigation.”
Jordan late Wednesday night announced he had expanded the House GOP efforts to look into Bragg’s handling of the Trump probe, releasing letters demanding testimony and documents from two former Manhattan prosecutors who quit last year over Bragg’s handling of the probe.
Jordan sent those letters to Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, which noted they resigned from the office in February 2022 “over Bragg’s initial reluctance to move forward with charges.” The letters to the two lay out an extensive argument that since resigning they have publicly embarrassed Bragg into now taking action against Trump, that he initially decided not to pursue.
Jordan points to comments Pomerantz makes in a book published in February “excoriating Bragg for not aggressively prosecuting President Trump.” The chairman writes: “It now appears that your efforts to shame Bragg have worked as he is reportedly resurrecting a so-called ‘zombie’ case against President Trump using a tenuous and untested legal theory.”
Seeking testimony from the two about the office’s internal deliberations regarding prosecuting Trump, Jordan writes: “The inference from the totality of these facts is that Bragg’s impending indictment is motivated by political calculations.”
--With assistance from Greg Farrell.
(Updates with response from Jordan in sixth, eighth paragraphs)
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