Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has filed a lawsuit against House Judiciary chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), accusing the federal lawmaker of engaging in a “brazen and unconstitutional attack” against the New York prosecutor through his attempts to investigate the inquiry and indictment of former President Donald Trump.
Beginning in the middle of last month, prior to Trump even being charged by Bragg, Jordan, who is an ardent Trump loyalist, “began a transparent campaign to intimidate and attack District Attorney Bragg,” which included demands for testimony from him and other current and former employees of the district attorney’s office, the lawsuit claims.
“Basic principles of federalism and common sense, as well as binding Supreme Court precedent, forbid Congress from demanding” the types of documents and testimony Jordan is trying to compel others to give him, the suit adds.
Jordan has claimed that his investigation into Bragg’s work is solely for oversight reasons, but many have questioned that claim, given how often the lawmaker and other Judiciary Committee Republicans have criticized any inquiry into Trump. Bragg’s motion seeks to forbid Jordan and other Republican Trump loyalists in Congress from enforcing subpoenas they’ve issued, including toward Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor in the district attorney’s office who resigned last year when it appeared Bragg might be slowing down or even dropping efforts to indict the former president.
Jordan appeared to be undeterred by the lawsuit on Twitter. “First, they indict a president for no crime. Then, they sue to block congressional oversight when we ask questions about the federal funds they say they used to do it,” Jordan wrote in a tweet.
Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records related to his attempts to cover up extramarital affairs with at least two women, former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actor Stormy Daniels. Both women were paid large sums of cash by intermediaries on behalf of the former president who later reimbursed them.
Bragg claims Trump covered up the affairs in ways to avoid being charged with other crimes, though, in the official indictment issued by Bragg earlier this month, those crimes aren’t listed. In public statements, Bragg, who has noted that state law doesn’t require him to list the other crimes, has suggested that such crimes could include conspiracy to promote a candidate by unlawful means and making false statements to tax authorities, among others.
Legal experts have weighed in on Bragg’s lawsuit, noting that, contrary to Jordan’s insinuation, the case has merit.
Legal analyst Karen Friedman Agnifilo noted that in his suit against Jordan, Bragg included strong evidence of intimidation efforts, including tweets from Jordan and the Judiciary Committee that seemed more political than anything having to do with legitimate congressional work.
“He’s really made, I think, an excellent case that this is an effort to intimidate him into not prosecuting, versus legitimate legislative oversight,” Agnifilo said on CNN Tuesday.
And although Congress can make broad subpoena requests that do not get overturned (so long as a legitimate connection to oversight work is cited), the points Bragg brings up in the lawsuit seeking to block Jordan are equally legitimate, said Eric Columbus, a former Department of Justice official who served under Obama.
“Bragg raises a constitutional counterpoint [to Jordan’s subpoenas]: federalism concerns,” Columbus tweeted. “In light of this courts might apply greater scrutiny to the subpoena.”
Bragg’s actions also suggest he’s willing to challenge Jordan’s congressional actions against him in appellate courts, including all the way to the Supreme Court.
“Bragg is ready to take his lawsuit against Jordan and the Judiciary Committee all the way up,” said Los Angeles Times senior legal columnist Harry Litman, noting that the Manhattan District Attorney has enlisted a lawyer with experience arguing before the Supreme Court.
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