Manhattan DA Fires Back at House Republicans Over Trump Hush-Money Case

When Donald J. Trump announced over the weekend that Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg was about to arrest him, he appealed to his supporters to “AGAINST.” Instead, it was Republican leaders who were quick to defend the former president.

Among them are three powerful Republicans in Congress who have sent letters asking Bragg to provide them with contact information, documents and testimony about his investigation, which is expected to lead to an indictment. criminal charges against Mr. Trump.

On Thursday, Mr. Bragg vehemently denied that request, which his office called an inappropriate attempt by Congress to thwart a local prosecution.

“The letter’s claims are an unlawful invasion of New York’s sovereignty,” the court district attorney general counsel, Leslie Dubeck, said. Prosecutors are generally prohibited from sharing information about an active investigation with third parties, and Ms. Dubeck noted in her letter that information is “confidential under state law.”

Mr. Bragg’s office is investigating Mr. Trump’s role in a hush payment to a porn star, and there have been some indications that prosecutors are about to bring an indictment. However, the exact time is still unknown.

But Mr. Trump’s prediction of his own arrest — proven incorrect — and the swift Republican response came at a time of heightened political tension and threatened to further undermine confidence. public trust in the rule of law. In the past, elected officials rarely commented on independence requests for fear of seeming to influence them inappropriately. But Mr. Trump’s willingness to step in has led his party to adopt his method: to treat investigations as political while politicizing them.

While in the White House, Mr. Trump criticized the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as politically biased, even as his attorney general, William P. Barr, challenge a federal case related to the hush money that Mr. Bragg is currently investigating. Mr. Trump also infringed on the Justice Department’s independence and fired both the FBI director and his first attorney general because he considered them insufficiently loyal.

Now that Trump is out of office, his authority over the Republican Party is encouraging similar intervention — this time in a local prosecutor’s investigation of a potential state crime. operating under New York law.

Representative Glenn Ivey, a Democrat from Maryland and a former prosecutor, said he was “surprised” to see the letter to Mr Bragg, “basically calling on him to violate secrecy laws” secret of the grand jury in New York.” The letter was sent by Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio of the Judiciary Committee, James R. Comer of Kentucky of the Oversight and Accountability Committee and Bryan Steil of Wisconsin of the Administrative Committee.

“I urge those three people to withdraw their letter immediately, hoping to realize the mistake they’ve made, but I think that’s too much to ask for,” Mr Ivey said.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, an ally of the district attorney, said Mr Jordan had “lost control” and was “trying to put his thumb on the scale for his friend Donald Trump”. Mr. Nadler appreciated Mr. Bragg’s answer.

The events leading up to the president’s letter began with Mr. Trump’s Saturday post, along with saying he would be arrested on Tuesday, calling on his supporters to protest using suggestive accusing language. remembers his social media posts in the weeks leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Republicans were quick to respond. Speaker of the House, Representative Kevin McCarthy, has called for an investigation into whether federal funds were used for “politically motivated prosecutions”, a well-hidden threat. unique to Mr. Bragg. The former president’s closest competitor in the 2024 Republican primary, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, said Bragg is “weaponizing” his office.

In her letter, Ms. Dubeck, the district attorney’s general counsel, wrote that the committee chair’s letter appeared to be motivated by two facts: the post by Mr. Trump and one of his attorneys. urged Congress to intervene, according to a New York Times report. “There is no factual basis for a congressional investigation,” she said.

Her letter requested a meeting with Republican committee members to find out if their committees had “any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested documents that could be provide or not.”

The letter was sent as Mr Jordan was taking steps to issue a subpoena. Mr. Jordan’s top attorney contacted Mr. Bragg’s office on Wednesday to ask who could receive the subpoena. The lawyer also claims someone in Mr Bragg’s office twice hung up the phone of an aide to Mr Jordan who had called before, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment, other than to say that the office is assessing the credibility of the claim.

Mr. Jordan also sent letters on Wednesday to two former leaders of the investigation, Carey R. Dunne And Mark F. Pomerantz, demanding documents and testimony related to Mr. Bragg’s case. Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz both resigned from the district attorney’s office in February 2022 after Mr. Bragg decided not to request a separate indictment against Mr. Trump related to his business practices.

Mr Dunne, Ms Dubeck’s predecessor as general counsel, declined to comment, as did Mr Pomerantz.

Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University’s law school and an expert on legal ethics, says most of the material congressmen are seeking is protected by attorney-client privilege or Another form of legal protection is known as the lawyer’s work product doctrine and calls the need an extraordinary excess.

“Overall, the letters represent an unprecedented need for information about traditional covert government operations, criminal law enforcement,” he said.

For his part, Mr Trump used racist language to describe the district attorney on Thursday, referring to Mr Bragg, who is black, as an “animal” in a post on the social media platform. your. Later that day, he posted a link that included two images placed side by side – one of him holding a stick and the other of Mr Bragg raising his hand – hinting at a physical assault on the district attorney .

District attorneys’ prosecutors have presented evidence to the grand jury since January and there have been some signals that they may soon indict Mr. Trump. First, they told Mr. Trump’s lawyers that he could testify before a grand jury in his own defense, a right granted to those about to be indicted. (He refused.) They also questioned nearly every witness involved in the gag payment to porn star, Stormy Daniels, before the grand jury.

But an indictment is not expected as early as next week. The grand jury hearing evidence on Trump doesn’t meet on Fridays.

William K. Rashbaum And Karoun Demirjian contribution report.


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