Three GOP committee chairs in the House of Representatives have written a joint letter demanding information from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg about a possible indictment he may issue soon against former President Donald Trump.
In spite of knowing few if any details about the specifics of Bragg’s investigation of Trump, the three House chairs — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wisconsin), chair of the House Administration Committee; and Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky), chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee — described Bragg’s investigation as an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”
“In light of the serious consequences of your actions, we expect that you will testify about what plainly appears to be a politically motivated prosecutorial decision,” the chairs wrote to Bragg — a bold claim given that the district attorney has yet to state any charges against Trump or whether an indictment is forthcoming.
The letter also demeans Bragg by suggesting he is selective in who he prosecutes, noting that his office announced last year that it was not going to pursue people with low-level offenses (including marijuana possession, adult sex work, and other charges). Such actions required the three chairs to possibly scrutinize “how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law enforcement agencies,” the letter stated, attempting to justify their calls for an appearance by Bragg before the committees.
The three want Bragg to testify and hand over documents relating to his investigation for the committees to scrutinize. The letter suggests that the committee believes Bragg has communicated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist him with the inquiry on Trump, as it requests supposed communications to be handed over to them as well — again, a claim which bears no merit, based on what is known so far of the investigation.
The chairs seem to admit that their letter has very little basis for making the claims that it does. In comments to CNN, Jordan admitted he didn’t know much about Bragg’s inquiry, including what possible charges Trump could be facing.
“We’re going with what you guys have told us,” Jordan said to the news agency, referring to media reports of the investigation in general.
The trio is giving Bragg an end-of-the-week deadline to respond to their request.
Some members of the GOP caucus have expressed skepticism over the letter, believing that it was issued much too soon.
“I’m going to wait until I hear more facts and read the indictment itself” before casting judgments on it, said Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska. “I have faith in our legal system. If these charges are political bogus stuff, and they may be, it will become clear enough soon.”
Other critics decried the letter as an intimidation measure, and possibly an illegal attempt to disrupt Bragg’s investigation of Trump.
“What jurisdiction does Congress have over a DA elected by Manhattanites?” tweeted Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney and current University of Alabama law school professor. “Sure, Jordan will talk about fed’l funding, but this is a purely political attack on local gov’t.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California), who once served as a law clerk to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, also derided the letter.
“Local prosecutors, including DA Bragg, owe you nothing,” Lieu wrote on Twitter. “In fact, it is illegal for you and @JudiciaryGOP to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation, or a criminal trial (if there is one).”
The letter from the three House committee chairs, as well as other efforts by Republicans to demand Bragg hand over information regarding his inquiry, “is nothing short of obstruction of justice in an effort to protect Donald Trump,” said Los Angeles Times opinion contributor Kurt Bardella. “Their ‘investigation’ into the Manhattan DA’s office is a flagrant abuse of power.”
Although the investigation on Trump has so far divulged little in terms of what charges he may face from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, it seems to be centered around alleged efforts by the former president, prior to his winning office, to falsify business records. Recent reports reveal that Bragg and his office have centered on the hush-money payments Trump paid, through his former lawyer Michael Cohen, to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in order to ensure her silence about an affair the two may have had prior to the 2016 presidential election.
On Saturday, Trump announced in an all-caps Truth Social posting, without any basis, that he’d be “ARRESTED ON TUESDAY,” and demanded that his followers “PROTEST” and “TAKE OUR NATION BACK” if that happens. Many viewed his words as incendiary, resembling his call to action which preceded the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building.