Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office responded to a demand for testimony from top House Republicans on Thursday, calling it an “unprecedented” intrusion into a local prosecution after former President Donald Trump “created a false expectation he would be arrested” this week.
Bragg’s office added that complying with the Republicans’ request would “interfere with law enforcement,” and would represent an “unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty.” Congress, the DA added, is “not the appropriate branch” to review a pending criminal case.
Trump claimed in a post on his social media site over the weekend that he’d be arrested on Tuesday in Bragg’s investigation of a 2016 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, a former porn actor who said she had sex with Trump in 2006.
No indictment of Trump has been announced, and Bragg’s grand jury canceled this week’s meeting. Bragg’s case reportedly rests on New York laws dealing with falsifying business documents, as well as potential campaign finance violations.
In an extraordinary letter on Monday, the GOP chairs of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Oversight Committee and the Committee on House Administration, all of which have been conducting investigations into Trump’s political enemies, accused Bragg of carrying out an unprecedented miscarriage of justice, even though no charges have been announced against 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,” Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Comer (R-Ky.) and Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) said in the letter.
“If these reports are accurate, your actions will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election,” the Republicans added.
Bragg’s office said Trump’s “lawyers reportedly urged” the lawmakers to intervene.
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told Congress in 2019 that he arranged a $130,000 payment to Daniels on Trump’s behalf, just weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Trump then reimbursed Cohen with a series of payments during the first year of his presidency, according to Cohen.
Republicans have given all sorts of excuses for Trump’s payments. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a top Trump ally, suggested this week that because Trump used his “personal money” to compensate Cohen, and because the payoff occurred seven years ago, he should be off the hook.
“I think in your heart of hearts you know too that you think this is political, and I think that’s what the rest of the country thinks,” McCarthy said.