By Samantha Flom and Gary Bai
NEW YORK—Rising crime around the United States can be attributed to the “soft-on-crime” policies of Democrat district attorneys funded by George Soros, according to Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.
While in New York City on April 17 for a field hearing on “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan,” committee members shared their perspectives on the matter with The Epoch Times.
“This hearing, of course, is about the violent crime spree and the soft-on-crime policies that have been instituted by Soros-funded DAs,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) asserted, noting that Congress has jurisdiction over the federal funding district attorneys’ offices receive.
“And if some of that funding has been misspent or misapplied, then we have a responsibility as stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars to track that down and make sure that it’s not,” he said.
The committee’s choice to focus on crime in Manhattan follows Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s recent decision to pursue falsification of business records charges against former President Donald Trump, which Republicans claim are politically motivated.
In bringing that case against Trump, Bragg upgraded 34 misdemeanor charges to felonies—a move that has raised brows on both sides of the political spectrum given that he downgraded more than half of the felony crimes his office reviewed last year to misdemeanors.
Bragg took office in January 2022. By December, overall crime had risen 22.4 percent year-over-year in New York, according to the New York City Police Department.
But according to House Republicans, Bragg is just one of many district attorneys politicizing their positions at the behest of Democrat mega-donor George Soros.
In June 2022, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund reported (pdf) that at least 75 district attorneys in the United States had been elected with Soros’s backing.
“Huge amounts of money from George Soros go to a PAC, which then goes to fund these very left-wing DAs that quite normally would never win,” Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) contended. “And that’s the issue. The issue is that they’re taking the prosecutor’s office and making it purely political.
“Even worse than that, they’re making the prosecutor’s office an office that doesn’t protect, fight for, or stand up for American victims and victims in the city of New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, and many other places.
“It’s wrong—it’s actually evil. Bad people should be in jail.”
While Republicans charge that Democrat district attorneys such as Bragg are abusing their offices for political gain, Democrats, such as Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), have argued that House Republicans are doing the same by investigating Bragg.
In his opening remarks during the April 17 hearing, Nadler asserted: “Committee Republicans designed this hearing to intimidate and deter the duly elected District Attorney of Manhattan from doing the work his constituents elected him to do. … They’re using their public offices and resources of this committee to protect their political patron, Donald Trump. It is an outrageous abuse of power. It is, to use the chairman’s favorite term, the weaponization of the House Judiciary Committee.”
After the hearing, Nadler followed up those comments by accusing his Republican colleagues of obstructing justice.
“It’s an obstruction of justice, literally, to have a congressional hearing attempting to stop or influence a given prosecution, which is clearly … an obstruction of justice. The Republicans are guilty of that.”
The Democrat also suggested that rising crime was a result of Republican opposition to gun reform.
“We’re the only major country that has mass shootings,” Nadler said. “And we’re the only major country that has freely available guns. The causation is obvious. That’s why we have tried—the Democrats have tried—to pass sensible gun control legislation, background checks, and so forth. And the Republicans have blocked it.”
According to a Crime Prevention Resource Center study published by the Social Science Research Network in September 2020, the United States accounted for only 1.1 percent of the world’s mass shootings from 1998 to 2017, despite making up 4.6 percent of the world’s population.
Bragg’s office issued a scathing response to the hearing, describing it as a “political stunt.”
“Ending violence, stopping crime, and supporting victims and their families are the most sacred duties of the Manhattan DA’s office,” a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokesperson said in a statement. “DA Bragg is reducing crime in Manhattan, reversing a tough spike that began before he even took office.”
Noting that homicides, rapes, robberies, and burglaries had all decreased for the first quarter of 2023 compared with last year, the spokesperson said: “For outside politicians to now appear in New York City on the taxpayer dime for a political stunt is a slap in the face to the dedicated NYPD officer, prosecutors, and other public servants who work tirelessly every day with facts and data to keep our home safe.
“DA Bragg and the Manhattan DA’s Office will always work with any local, state, or federal partner who is serious about achieving lasting public safety.”