Members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees rebuked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a letter Saturday for refusing to cooperate with their investigation into Stormy Daniels’ money laundering case against former President Donald Trump.
In the latest correspondence, the panel, led by Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio, shot down Bragg’s March 23 letter in which he denied the panel’s request to turn over documents and testify about what they called an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial power.”
Bragg countered that the commission had no basis for a congressional investigation, as it was constitutionally bound to protect state law enforcement without federal interference, and accused them of acting on Trump’s behalf.
“Contrary to the central argument set forth in your letter, this matter is not simply one of local or state interest,” the commission responded Saturday. “Rather, the potential criminal prosecution of a former President of the United States by an elected district attorney of the opposing political party (and who would face the prospect of re-election) implicates substantial federal interests, particularly in a jurisdiction where trial-level judges are also lay elected”.
The signers — Jordan, Bryan Steil (R-Wisconsin), James Comer (R-Tenn) — argued that the prosecution of a former president could affect how a sitting president exercises his powers.
“For example, a President could choose to avoid taking action that he believes is in the national interest because it would have a negative impact on New York for fear of retaliation in New York,” the lawmakers wrote.
The presidents said Congress must now consider legislation that would “protect former and/or current Presidents from politically motivated prosecutions by state and local officials.”
“Critically, because of your own actions, you are now in possession of critical information for this investigation,” the letter said.
In response to the new letter, Bragg stood by his decision not to cooperate Saturday.
“It is not appropriate for Congress to interfere with pending local investigations,” a spokesman for Bragg’s office told The Post.
“This unprecedented investigation by federal elected officials into an ongoing matter only serves to obstruct, disrupt and undermine the legitimate work of our dedicated prosecutors. As always, we will continue to follow the facts and be guided by the rule of law in everything we do.”
Bragg’s office has been presenting evidence against Trump to a subpoena since late January in connection with a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
The payment was made shortly before the 2016 election by then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the former president in 2006 – which Trump has repeatedly denied.
Prosecutors are reportedly trying to prove that Trump provided the funds and then falsified business records by writing off Cohen’s compensation for paying Daniels as legal fees.
While that would amount to a misdemeanor under state law, Bragg is reportedly pursuing a new legal theory that would make it a felony on the grounds that records were falsified in connection with the violation of federal campaign finance rules.
The panel expressed dismay that Bragg’s response letter “did not challenge” that he allegedly “attempted to upgrade a misdemeanor charge to a felony using an untested legal theory at the same time you simultaneously downgrade the charges to misdemeanors in numerous other cases in your jurisdiction ».
The standoff began Monday, when House Republicans first asked Bragg to turn over all testimony, communications and information implicating the DA’s Office, the Department of Justice and any other law enforcement agencies in the investigation. them with “political motives”. Trump.
Committee members also requested records on two former DA’s office employees – Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz – who led the investigation into DA Trump’s investigation until they resigned last year after Bragg reportedly expressed doubts about continuing the case .
In a response Wednesday, Bragg’s general counsel Leslie Dabeck requested a meeting with the presidents “to understand whether the Commission has a legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials.”
“While the DA’s Office will not allow a congressional investigation to impede the exercise of New York’s sovereign police power, this Office will always treat a fellow government entity with due respect,” Dubeck wrote.