House Republicans are rallying to Trump's defense, but they're unlikely to be able to stop a possible indictment
- House Republicans are demanding documents and testimony from Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.
- It's the latest major step the GOP-led House has taken to defend Trump as he faces a possible criminal indictment.
House Republicans launched their latest salvo in defense of former President Donald Trump on Monday as he faces possible criminal charges in connection to a hush-money payment made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign.
GOP Reps. Jim Jordan, James Comer, and Bryan Steil — prominent Trump allies and the three chairmen of the powerful House judiciary, oversight, and administration committees, respectively — demanded documents and testimony from the Manhattan district attorney investigating Trump's role in the hush-money payment, calling his possible indictment "an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority."
"In light of the serious consequences of your actions, we expect that you will testify about what plainly appears to be a politically motivated prosecutorial decision," the lawmakers said in a letter to Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.
The GOP-led congressional request comes as a slew of high-profile Trump supporters have rallied behind him amid reports that a Manhattan grand jury is nearing an indictment of the former president.
But given that the investigation is ongoing, it's unlikely that Bragg will turn over materials related to the probe and testify before Congress on the matter. And without the backing of the Justice Department, it's unclear what consequences, if any, Congress can impose on Bragg's office.
"There's no real quick way for them to enforce this," Stan Brand, former House counsel and partner at his law practice, Brand Woodward Law, said of the letter. "So I don't know what they think their end game is."
Indeed, in order to force Bragg or his staff to produce documents and testimony to lawmakers, the House would need to make a referral to the Justice Department, and the department would then have to bring a criminal case, as it did with former Trump advisors Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro.
Is the Justice Department "gonna enforce a subpoena against Alvin Bragg? I don't think so," Brand said, adding that it's "an open question" as to whether Congress even has any investigative power over the Manhattan DA's probe.
In their letter, the trio of House Republicans tied Bragg's investigation to concerns about his office's use of federal funds, claiming that his actions require "congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law enforcement agencies."
The GOP lawmakers also pointed out in their letter that federal prosecutors who scrutinized the hush-money payment closed their investigation without charging Trump.
Bragg's "apparent decision to pursue criminal charges where federal authorities declined to do so requires oversight to inform potential legislative reforms about the delineation of prosecutorial authority between federal and local officials," the letter said.
Several legal experts have raised questions about Bragg's investigation. Yet while the lawmakers may have made valid criticisms, former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb said, the letter is "bad form."
"I hate it whenever Congress — no matter who — does this in the middle of a, even misguided, criminal effort," Cobb said. "It's just a bad-looking odious power play, even though much of what they say in their letter is fact, you know, it's embarrassing that Congress would seek to interfere with the prosecution at this stage."
Monday's letter also comes after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pledged to subject Bragg's office to congressional investigations in anticipation of a possible Trump indictment.
"Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump," McCarthy tweeted on Saturday. "I'm directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions."
Trump, for his part, has denied that he had an affair with Daniels and says he did "absolutely nothing wrong." Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to five felony charges related to the payment, including tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.
The former president said without evidence over the weekend that he expected to be arrested Tuesday. His lawyers and advisors said, however, that they had no indication that authorities were going to arrest Trump. As of Monday, witnesses were still appearing before the Manhattan grand jury investigating the case, and sources told Insider over the weekend that no surrender date had been set yet.
In his Saturday Truth Social post claiming that he'd be arrested Tuesday, Trump also called on his supporters to "protest" and "take our nation back."
"IT'S TIME!!!" he wrote in the post. "WE JUST CAN'T ALLOW THIS ANYMORE. THEY'RE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SIT BACK & WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA!PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!"
Bragg sent an email to staff later Saturday saying that his office would "not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York."
He went on to say that the DA's office is working with the court and NYPD to "ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place so all 1,600 of us have a secure work environment."
"We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law," a spokesperson for Bragg's office said in a statement to Insider, defending the district attorney's record.
"In every prosecution, we follow the law without fear or favor to uncover the truth. Our skilled, honest and dedicated lawyers remain hard at work," the spokesperson said.
A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment.
Laura Italiano contributed to this report. This story has been updated to include comment from the Manhattan DA's office.
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