3 House GOP chairmen call for Manhattan DA Bragg to testify about Trump investigation
WASHINGTON – Three House Republican chairmen called Monday for testimony from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg because of concerns his investigation of former President Donald Trump would become “a politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”
Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, head of the Judiciary Committee; James Comer of Kentucky, head of the Oversight and Accountability Committee; and Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, head of the Administration Committee, told Bragg in a letter his actions could “erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice” if he charges Trump.
“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former President of the United States and current declared candidate for that office,” the three wrote. "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."
Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for Bragg, said prosecutors would follow the law without fear or favor to uncover the truth.
"We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law," Filson said.
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Here is what we know about the investigation:
Trump expects to be indicted
Trump announced last week he expects to be indicted as soon as Tuesday. The Manhattan prosecutor’s office has investigated him for years, but the inquiry appeared to near a decision point because Trump declined an invitation to testify.
An indictment of Trump would be unprecedented because no former president has ever been charged criminally.
Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said Trump's prediction wasn't based on contact from Bragg's office but on press reports.
"No one tells us anything, which is very frustrating," Tacopina told USA Today.
House Republicans question Bragg’s politics
Trump has attacked Bragg as a "racist in reverse" and politically motivated prosecutor. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been investigating Trump since at least 2018 – years before Bragg took office at the start of 2022 – in what George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley called a “zombie” case against Trump.
Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for Trump, and porn actress Stormy Daniels have each testified recently about a hush-money payment Cohen arranged for Trump to Daniels before the 2016 election. The payment aimed to keep Daniels silent about her claim she had had sex with Trump, which he denied.
More: Is Donald Trump being arrested? Here are the possible charges in the New York investigation
House Republicans characterized Cohen as a “disgraced former lawyer” who was imprisoned in part for his role in the payment. The lawmakers also criticized the underlying legal theory for bringing charges against Trump, for allegedly falsifying business records dealing with a campaign finance violation, which they called “tenuous and untested.”
The chairmen asked for Bragg, a Democrat, to testify about his inquiry by March 23.
“The inference from the totality of these facts is that your impending indictment is motivated by political calculations,” the chairmen wrote.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight panel, said the chairmen acted entirely outside their powers to try to influence a pending criminal investigation.
“The Republicans' letter to the Manhattan District Attorney represents an astonishing and unprecedented abuse of power as they attempt to use Congressional resources to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation at another level of government and obstruct a possible criminal indictment," Raskin said.
Rep. Daniel Goldman, D-N.Y., who serves on the Judiciary and Oversight committees and served as counsel in Trump's first impeachment, said in a tweet the Republicans had no role in investigating a local prosecutor.
"Defending Trump is not a legitimate legislative purpose for Congress to investigate a state district attorney," Goldman said. "Congress has no jurisdiction to investigate the Manhattan DA, which receives no federal funding nor has any other federal nexus."
Trump would continue to campaign for president if indicted
Trump has said he would continue to campaign for president in 2024 even if he is indicted.
Trump also faces a federal investigation by special counsel Jack Smith about his role in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, and the classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. And a Georgia grand jury in Fulton County is investigating his effort to overturn the 2020 election in that state.
But Trump said he’ll continue to campaign even while facing criminal charges. His first rally of the 2024 presidential race is scheduled for March 25 in Waco, Texas.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 3 House GOP chairmen call for Manhattan DA to testify about Trump