- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2023

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is accusing House Republicans of collaborating with former President Donald Trump to interfere in the prosecutor’s criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, and says their complaint of a political persecution is “baseless.”

In a six-page response Friday to the lawmakers sent hours after Mr. Bragg issued a formal indictment against Mr. Trump, Mr. Bragg’s general counsel, Leslie Dubeck, demanded that three Republican House committee chairmen withdraw their request that the prosecutor’s office turn over a trove of documents and communications related to the Trump investigation. 

“Like any other defendant, Mr. Trump is entitled to challenge these charges in court and avail himself of all processes and protections that New York State’s robust criminal procedure affords,” the letter stated. “What neither Mr. Trump nor Congress may do is interfere with the ordinary course of proceedings in New York State.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, wrote to Mr. Bragg last week seeking more than six years’ worth of communications related to the district attorney’s investigation into allegations that Mr. Trump paid $130,000 in hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The letter was co-signed by House Oversight and Accountability Committee James Comer, Kentucky Republican, and Committee on House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil, Wisconsin Republican.

Ms. Dubeck pushed back against the lawmakers’ request, calling the congressional investigation “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution.” She said the charges filed against Mr. Trump “were brought by citizens of New York, doing their civic duty as members of a grand jury, who found probable cause to accuse Mr. Trump of having committed crimes in New York.”

“Your first letter made an unprecedented request to the District Attorney for confidential information about the status of the state grand jury investigation — now indictment — of Mr. Trump,” she wrote to the GOP lawmakers. “Your second letter asserts that, by failing to provide it, the District Attorney somehow failed to dispute your baseless and inflammatory allegations that our investigation is politically motivated. That conclusion is misleading and meritless.”

The lawmakers told Mr. Bragg‘s office in a second letter last weekend that contrary to the district attorney’s arguments, the prosecution of the former president exceeds state and local interests.

The lawmakers said if politically motivated prosecutions by local officials were to become the norm, it would have “a profound impact on how presidents choose to exercise their powers while in office.”

“Furthermore, your reported decision to indict a former President requires congressional scrutiny about how federal public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law enforcement agencies and how limited resources are prioritized,” the lawmakers wrote.

Republicans believe Mr. Bragg is abusing his office to politically target Mr. Trump, who is the leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate.

Ms. Dubeck told the lawmakers that their requests for information “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.” 

Ms. Dubeck added that Mr. Trump has directed harsh invective against Mr. Bragg and threatened on social media that his arrest or indictment in New York may unleash “death & destruction.”

“As Committee Chairmen, you could use the stature of your office to denounce these attacks and urge respect for the fairness of our justice system and for the work of the impartial grand jury,” she wrote. “Instead, you and many of your colleagues have chosen to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s efforts to vilify and denigrate the integrity of elected state prosecutors and trial judges.”

The vote for indictment by a grand jury Thursday will begin a legal process that will likely require Mr. Trump to go to New York to face the charges.

Mr. Trump called the indictment “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.”

“Never before in our nation’s history has this been done,” Mr. Trump said. “The Democrats have cheated countless times over the decades, including spying on my campaign, but weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a President of the United States and by far the leading Republican candidate for President, has never happened before. Ever.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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