Manhattan DA's office says House GOP demands for testimony would interfere in Trump probe
Washington — The general counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office told three House GOP committee chairmen that their recent demand for testimony and documents related to the DA's investigation into former President Donald Trump was "unprecedent[ed]" and would interfere in an ongoing criminal inquiry.
On Monday, Reps. Jim Jordan, James Comer and Bryan Steil wrote to District Attorney Alvin Bragg, accusing him of preparing to "engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority" and demanding his testimony if a New York grand jury issues an indictment charging Trump.
Bragg and the grand jury he convened have been investigating the circumstances surrounding a $130,000 payment made on Trump's behalf to adult film star Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 election, including potential falsification of business records. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and insisted Thursday that he is "100% innocent."
In their letter, the trio of GOP chairmen also sought details about any communications between the DA's office and the Justice Department, as well as information about the use of federal funds in Bragg's office. Jordan is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Comer leads the House Oversight Committee and Steil chairs the Committee on House Administration.
Leslie Dubeck, the general counsel in Bragg's office, responded to the lawmakers on Thursday. She said that complying with their demands would reveal "non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law."
The chairmen's letter "only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene," Dubeck wrote, referring to Trump's claim over the weekend that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday. "Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry."
Dubeck said the DA's office cannot reveal information about grand jury proceedings absent a ruling from a judge. She called the chairmen's demands an "unlawful incursion into New York's sovereignty," citing historical precedent and Supreme Court opinions about the division of state and federal authority.
"It is clear that Congress cannot have any legitimate legislative task relating to the oversight of local prosecutors enforcing state law," she wrote. "To preserve the Constitution's federalist principles, the District Attorney is duty bound by his constitutional oath to New York's sovereign interest in the exercise of police powers reserved to the States under the Tenth Amendment."
Dubeck said Congress is "not the appropriate branch to review pending criminal matters."
"If a grand jury brings charges against Donald Trump, the DA's Office will have an obligation, as in every case, to provide a significant amount of discovery from its files to the defendant so that he may prepare a defense," she continued. "The Letter's allegation that the DA's Office is pursuing a prosecution for political purposes is unfounded, and regardless, the proper forum for such a challenge is the Courts of New York, which are equipped to consider and review such objections."
Regarding the chairmen's request for information about the DA's office use of federal money, Dubeck said the office is "preparing and will submit a letter describing its use of federal funds." She asked to meet with the lawmakers "to understand whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be accommodated without impeding [New York's] sovereign interests."
The grand jury investigating Trump did not meet Wednesday as normally scheduled and is expected to hear evidence in a separate case on Thursday, sources told CBS News, likely meaning any potential vote on an indictment would be pushed until at least next week.
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