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Democrats ready counteroffensive for House hearing on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

House Democrats plan to attempt a counteroffensive for a Monday congressional hearing in Manhattan during which Republicans are expected to criticize and question the credibility of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The hearing comes just two weeks after a grand jury charged former President Donald Trump, a Republican, with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments, in a case brought by Bragg. Trump has pleaded not guilty. Some Republicans have accused Bragg, a Democrat, of political motives in bringing the criminal charges.

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, is planning the field hearing for Monday at Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Federal Building. A statement from Judiciary Committee Republicans said the hearing "will examine how Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's pro-crime, anti-victim policies have led to an increase in violent crime and a dangerous community for New York City residents."

Multiple House Democratic sources told CBS News they will use the hearing to make a case arguing for stricter gun laws, and will seek to link violent crimes in the city to a need for tighter gun control.   

House Democrats will also seek formal permission to allow other Democratic members from New York City who aren't on the committee to be present in the hearing. Freshman Rep. Dan Goldman, whose district includes Manhattan, told CBS News he will seek a waiver to allow him to participate. 

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, another New York Democrat, also plans to attend.

Some, but not all, House Judiciary Committee Democrats are planning to attend the field hearing, according to multiple staffers who spoke with CBS News. House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, who represents a seat in New York's north country area, is also planning to attend.                                                   

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from Brooklyn, held a call earlier this week with the committee's Democratic staff and anti-gun violence stakeholders to discuss strategy ahead of the hearing, according to a source familiar with the discussion. 

Democratic staffers told CBS News they expect Democratic members to hold a news conference ahead of the hearing in which they will likely accuse Republicans on the committee of attempting to intimidate Bragg for his prosecution of former President Donald Trump

Goldman said the hearing is a "political stunt designed to continue the improper use of congressional authority to defend Donald Trump in his criminal case."  

House Republicans have criticized Bragg's prosecution and accused the prosecutor of weaponizing government against Trump. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed a former Manhattan assistant district attorney, Mark Pomerantz, to appear for a deposition. In a letter to Pomerantz on April 6, Jordan said, "The New York County District Attorney's unprecedented prosecutorial conduct requires oversight to inform the consideration of potential legislative reforms that would, if enacted, insulate current and former presidents from such politically motivated state and local prosecution."

Earlier this week, Bragg filed a federal suit to challenge the committee's subpoena of Pomerantz, accusing Jordan and the committee of trying to interfere in his investigation of Trump.

House Democrats said Republicans showed the peril of boycotting congressional hearings last year, when GOP leaders chose not to seat members on the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol. The Jan. 6 committee, operating exclusively with members selected by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was able to synchronize and unify its message and its hearings.     

Republicans have announced three of the witnesses called for Monday's hearing, including a former Manhattan bodega clerk and the mother of a homicide victim.   

Nikole Killion contributed to this report. 

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