By Joseph Lord
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is demanding answers from a New York district attorney reportedly planning to arrest former President Donald Trump on March 21.
The district attorney in question, Alvin Bragg of Manhattan, is reportedly planning to arrest the former president over an alleged “hush money” payment during the 2016 election. Trump is accused of furnishing money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to hide allegations of an affair between the two, which Trump denies having.
Republicans were quick to condemn the move as another episode in the saga of the “weaponization” of the federal government against Trump and his allies.
In his letter to Bragg (pdf), Jordan—joined by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil (R-Wis.)—called the impending arrest “an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”
Like other Republicans, Jordan argued that political motives undergird the investigation, particularly in view of Bragg’s track record as a district attorney.
Jordan and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) alike have said that Bragg has historically been in favor of reducing convictions and penalties.
While serving as a district attorney, Bragg has regularly reduced felony charges, including violent felonies, to misdemeanors, a track record that McCarthy said was seen as “a matter of pride” by Bragg. At the same time, violent crime has skyrocketed in New York and other major metropolitan centers across the United States.
“Your decision to pursue such a politically motivated prosecution—while adopting progressive criminal justice policies that allow career ‘criminals [to] run the streets’ of Manhattan—requires congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law-enforcement agencies,” Jordan wrote.
Republicans have accused Democrats of being “soft on crime,” particularly in the wake of widespread calls beginning in mid-2020 to “defund the police.”
Other Republicans have warned about the dangers of left-wing district attorneys such as Bragg, whom Republicans accuse of letting ideology interfere with performing their duties. District attorneys have broad authority over which cases go to court and which charges can be pleaded down.
‘Tenuous and Untested’
Critics of the reportedly impending arrest have argued that in addition to being beyond the statute of limitations, the charges against Trump are based on allegations that other prosecutors dismissed.
Bragg’s hope to arrest Trump relies on a legal basis that’s “tenuous and untested,” he contended.
Jordan accused Bragg’s office of spending years “searching for a basis—any basis—on which to bring charges” against the former president.
He noted that even The Washington Post—a publication vehemently opposed to Trump and his allies—considers the charges “unusual” in view of the fact that “prosecutors have repeatedly examined the long-established details but decided not to pursue charges.”
The legal basis for the case, Jordan said, relies heavily on testimony from Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who has been convicted of perjury in the past.
“Cohen has been vocal about his deeply personal animus toward President Trump,” he said. “Under these circumstances, there is no scenario in which Cohen could fairly be considered an unbiased and credible witness.”
Rather than respect for the rule of law, Jordan suggested, the investigation has been “motivated by political calculations” by Bragg.
‘The Type of Thing America Hates’
McCarthy also blasted Bragg, accusing him of hypocrisy and political motivations.
“It doesn’t matter which side of the issue you’re on—this is the type of thing America hates,” he said.
McCarthy made the comments during a House Republican leadership press conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Orlando, Florida, for Republicans’ annual House retreat.
“Democrats and Republicans alike hate this kind of justice,” he said. “[The law] is supposed to be equal to all in America.”
McCarthy noted that two other district attorneys had passed on the case being reopened against Trump because of a lack of evidence.
“Lawyer after lawyer after lawyer will tell you this is the weakest case out there,” he said.
The effort to arrest Trump, McCarthy said, is tantamount to “someone putting their thumb on the scale because they don’t like someone else’s political views.”
Bragg’s office didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment.