Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), in his capacity as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is demanding records and opening an inquiry into Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis’s charges against former President Donald Trump.
Jordan made the request for records in the investigation on Thursday, just hours before Trump is set to surrender to Fulton County authorities. Upon surrendering, Trump will be formally booked and arraigned on 13 charges relating to his attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
In his letter to Willis, Jordan alleged that the district attorney was biased in charging Trump and 18 co-defendants, citing Willis’s campaign literature and the timing of the charges. Jordan also questioned whether Willis had contact with federal officials, including special counsel Jack Smith, who indicted Trump of dozens of crimes in two investigations of his own.
It’s unclear how communicating with Smith would be unethical; over the course of any investigation, differing jurisdictions will often consult each other regarding evidence.
Jordan’s letter demands documents relating to the investigation, including any documents indicating contact with Smith or other “federal Executive Branch officials” — suggesting that he believes the Biden administration may have been involved in Willis’s inquiry, despite virtually no evidence suggesting as much.
Jordan also claimed that the “timing of this prosecution reinforces concerns about [Willis’s] motivation” for charging Trump, noting that the inquiry was opened in February 2021 but that charges were not brought “until two-and-a-half years later, at a time when the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination [was] in full swing.” Such a timeframe doesn’t indicate a political agenda or corruption, however — it often takes investigations of this size and magnitude a long time to complete, especially when multiple defendants are involved.
Jordan’s criticism echoes Trump’s unfounded complaints on social media and in other public spheres, as the former president has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the investigations into his actions are an attempt to obstruct his 2024 presidential campaign.
The Judiciary chair also appears to defend Trump in his letter, claiming that Willis is trying to “criminally prosecute federal officers” who were acting within their “official duties,” and that she is “criminaliz[ing] under Georgia law” Trump’s free speech rights.
Jordan’s remarks appear to be referencing a phone conversation between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in January of 2021, downplaying the former president’s attempts to coerce Raffensperger to “find” him enough votes to overturn his election loss to President Joe Biden. In that conversation, Trump threatened Raffensberger and his lawyer with legal repercussions if they refused to comply.
Trump and his allies have defended the conversation by claiming that he was simply engaging in “free speech.” But Trump’s comments — including his threats against the Georgia official — would not be protected by First Amendment speech arguments under Georgia state law or federal law.
Jordan’s recent letter isn’t the first time the chair of the Judiciary Committee has attempted to retrieve documents from investigators. He has also requested documents from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in Trump’s “hush money” payments investigation, and has sent two letters to the special counsel’s office over Smith’s investigations into Trump. In all three instances, investigators have rebuffed efforts to turn over documents, and other lawmakers in Congress — such as Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California), another member of the Judiciary Committee — have denounced Jordan’s actions as illegal.
“It is illegal for you…to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation, or a criminal trial,” Lieu wrote in a tweet directed toward Jordan in March.
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