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Rep. Stacey Plaskett defends Manhattan D.A.'s investigation of Trump — "The Takeout"

Rep. Stacey Plaskett on "The Takeout"
Rep. Stacey Plaskett on "The Takeout" — 3/24/2023 46:20
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The top Democrat on the House Judiciary "weaponization of government" select subcommittee is accusing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of attempting to intimidate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in his investigation of former President Trump. 

"For the speaker of the House and the chair of [the Judiciary Committee] to attempt to intimidate him, not to prosecute, I believe, is the weaponization of the federal government," Rep. Stacey Plaskett said during an appearance on "The Takeout."

Ranking member Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands, speaks during the Weaponization of the Federal Government Subcommittee hearing on "Weaponization of the Federal Government" in Washington on February 9, 2023.
Ranking member Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands, speaks during the Weaponization of the Federal Government Subcommittee hearing on "Weaponization of the Federal Government" in Washington on February 9, 2023. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The new select subcommittee, created by the Republican-led Congress, has sweeping powers, including the ability to issue subpoenas to a number of federal agencies. House GOP leaders said the panel would "investigate how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and other executive branch agencies" operate.

Plaskett, the delegate for the U.S. Virgin Islands and a manager in the second Trump impeachment, said Bragg should ignore the rising chorus of GOP congressional criticism.

When asked if Bragg should comply with demands for testimony and documents involved in his investigation of Trump, Plaskett replied, "Definitely not." 

"While the criminal investigation is still going on? What would he do, come and say, 'I can't say anything because the criminal investigation is ongoing.' That's a waste of his time," Plaskett continued. "Let the man do his job and we will see the outcome of it."

Plaskett also rejected Republican descriptions of Bragg as a "radical" prosecutor pursuing a politically motivated investigation.

"He is going to be very circumspect, very methodical in the prosecution of any individual for a white-collar case because of his prior experience," Plaskett told "The Takeout." "Especially if it is a former president of the United States — because it is precedent setting. It is something that cannot be done lightly. But I also believe that we have a former president who was unlike any other former president. And he, by his own actions, has kind of broken the mold."

Plaskett said anxiety around a potential indictment and arrest of Trump, including fears about protests and potential violence, reflect poorly on Trump — not on the legal process playing out in Manhattan.

"There's a national anxiety surrounding the former president in its in his totality," Plaskett said. "Everyone has anxiety about what he has done and what he continues to do. Why is he so special that Americans should be engaged in protesting for him? There are so many issues that Americans need to protest about, and there are so many issues that Americans are much more concerned with. I think it's the height of narcissism that the president believes that American people should rally specifically around him."

Plaskett also discussed her role in Trump's second impeachment trial. The House impeached Trump for actions leading up to the attack on the Capitol that disrupted certification of the 2020 presidential election. Plaskett was a registered Republican and worked in the George W. Bush Justice Department and for top House Republicans until she became a Democrat in 2008.

"I was a Republican, and part of my job on the impeachment team was to translate things into Republican-speak, to not sound so much like Democrats," Plaskett said. "When I would talk to Republican senators, they'd say to me, 'Stacey, you're doing a good job. This evidence is outstanding. You've made your case.' I would say, 'So are you going to vote to convict?' And they're like, 'No, I can't do that. I can't do that.'"

Plaskett also said Trump may face more legal jeopardy over revelations he misinformed his attorney about the placement and handling of classified document at Mar-a-Lago. Trump's attorney, Evan Corcoran, is to testify Friday about his discussions with Trump. The court has also ordered Corcoran to provide documents about those conversations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered Corcoran's testimony after prosecutors developed sufficient evidence, the court said, to suggest an intent to deceive the Justice Department about the handling of classified documents. 

"You know, the two people you don't ever lie to are your mother and your attorney," Plaskett said. "Your attorney because they also have a duty to advise you and direct you. If that is in fact, correct…that goes to show that this is an individual who is not concerned with the truth. What we have in Trump is an individual who is outside the spectrum of what the presidency is supposed to have been."

Executive producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin 
Show email:
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast

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