Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) called demands from House GOP leaders to force his testimony an “unlawful incursion” on his ongoing probe into former President Trump’s role in a hush money scandal.
The Thursday response from Bragg comes as lawmakers, led by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), demanded the DA turn over all documents and communications about the case.
The move “is an unprecedent[ed] inquiry into a pending local prosecution. The letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene,” Bragg wrote.
“Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.”
The letter does not rule out the possibility of meeting with GOP lawmakers, instead offering to “meet and confer to understand whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be accommodated.”
The five-page letter from Bragg offers a point-by-point breakdown of the GOP’s Monday letter, saying it would interfere with ongoing law enforcement duties, violate state sovereignty and would be an inappropriate use of congressional power, dangling limited use of federal funds as a backing for intervention.
Bragg’s response comes as the Manhattan grand jury assembled in the case is no longer expected to hear evidence on the matter on Thursday, delaying their next meeting on the matter until Monday.
The confidentiality of such processes, Bragg said, is designed to protect all involved, including potential defendants such as Trump. It was Trump who forecast he expected to be arrested earlier this week in the probe, but the grand jury has yet to weigh in on the matter.
Bragg pushed back on arguments that such a prosecution would be a political matter.
“If charges are brought at the conclusion, it will be because the rule of law and faithful execution of the District Attorney’s duty require it,” he wrote.
“The Letter’s allegation that the DA’s Office is pursuing a prosecution for political purposes is unfounded, and regardless, the proper forum for such a challenge is the Courts of New York, which are equipped to consider and review such objections.”
The letter cites a number of laws and more than a dozen cases in pushing back on the congressional request.
Bragg’s investigation is a “quintessential police power,” and therefore a matter left to the states rather than Congress.
“Your letter treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states. It suggests that Congress’s investigation is being ‘conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to “punish” those investigated,’ and is, therefore, ‘indefensible,’” he writes, pointing to a 1957 Supreme Court ruling limiting congressional investigations.
The GOP’s letter called Bragg’s investigation political and warned prosecution would “erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election.”
House Judiciary’s response Thursday again raised that specter, while rehashing earlier claims that New York City is facing an increase in crime.
“Alvin Bragg should focus on prosecuting actual criminals in New York City rather than harassing a political opponent in another state,” the committee wrote on Twitter.
“Make Manhattan Safe Again!”
Bragg’s office fought that claim Monday, noting a decline in homicides and shootings both this year and last year while pointing to statistics in the home states of the three chairman that authored the letter.
“New York remains one of the safest big cities in the U.S. with a far lower murder rate than the most populous cities where the Committee Chairmen hail from – Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kentucky,” a spokeswoman for Bragg said.
Bragg is no longer the only official sought by the GOP in connection with the Trump probe.
In a late Wednesday letter, Jordan requested testimony from two prosecutors who resigned from the New York case over disagreements with Bragg.
The requests were made to Mark Pomerantz, former New York County Special Assistant District Attorney, and Carey Dunne, a former Manhattan Special Assistant District Attorney, both of whom resigned from Bragg’s Trump investigation in February 2022.
“Last year, you resigned from the office over Bragg’s initial reluctance to move forward with charges, shaming Bragg in your resignation letter — which was subsequently leaked — into bringing charges,” Jordan wrote to Pomerantz.
“Based on your unique role in this matter, and your subsequent public statements prejudicing the impartiality of any prosecution, we request your cooperation with our oversight of this politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”
—Updated at 11:18 a.m.