House GOP Scrambles To Defend Trump Against Possible Indictment
The potential indictment of former President Donald Trump by a New York prosecutor would be an unprecedented miscarriage of justice, some leading Republicans in the House of Representatives argued Monday.
In a letter to New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg ― who Trump has claimed will arrest him this week ― top House Republicans blasted Bragg and demanded details about the investigation.
“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.
The three men respectively chair 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.
Trump said in a post on his social media site over the weekend that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday as part of Bragg’s investigation into whether he broke the law with a 2016 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, a former porn star who said she had sex with Trump in 2006.
Trump is also under investigation by state and federal prosecutors for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his refusal to turn over public documents at the end of his term.
“This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis ― any basis ― on which to bring charges, ultimately settling on a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue,” Jordan, Comer and Steil wrote in their letter to Bragg.
“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 wrote.
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 election. Trump then reimbursed Cohen with a series of payments during the first year of his presidency.
“He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did,” Cohen testified. “I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges in 2018, including campaign finance violations related to the payments to Daniels and another woman. Prosecutors said Cohen’s payments amounted to in-kind contributions to Trump’s campaign that far exceeded legal limits.
In their letter Monday, the three Republicans said Cohen lacks credibility as a witness for Bragg’s case, calling him “a convicted perjurer with a demonstrable prejudice against President Trump.” They asked Bragg to hand over any correspondence with federal prosecutors who declined to charge Trump in the case, and any documents reflecting the use of federal funds by the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
In response to Trump’s claim that he faces arrest, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vowed that House committees will “immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”
Since January, the Judiciary Committee under Jordan has investigated the alleged “weaponization of government” against Trump supporters, including those who rioted at the U.S. Capitol. The Oversight Committee under Comer has tried to tie President Joe Biden’s son Hunter to the Chinese Communist Party, and the Administration Committee under Steil has sought to rewrite the history of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021.
The reaction to Trump’s claim that he will be arrested this week recalls the furious Republican response to the FBI raid of Trump’s residence in Florida last summer: Their default stance is that prosecutors are overreaching and that Trump did nothing wrong.
House Judiciary Committee member Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said in a tweet on Monday that Bragg doesn’t owe Jordan any information, and that it’s illegal for the committee “to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation inquiry.”
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