House Republicans Demand Testimony from Manhattan DA as Trump Indictment Looms

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With an indictment for former president Donald Trump expected soon, House Judiciary chairman Jim Jordan (R., Oh.) and other Republican leaders are requesting testimony from Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg about what they say is “a politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”

On Saturday, Trump claimed “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan DA’s office have led him to believe he will be arrested Tuesday in connection with a hush-money payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels. He also called for protests to take place to “take our nation back!” Since then, GOP officials have slammed the looming prosecution. Jordan and fellow leaders claimed in a letter to Bragg Monday that it’s a fishing expedition which relies on a legal theory that “appears to be tenuous and untested.”

The potential offense in this case is falsifying business records, a misdemeanor, which can be upgraded to a Class E felony — the lowest felony rung — if prosecutors can prove it was done to conceal or commit a second crime, in this case a campaign-finance violation. Prosecutors could argue that the hush-money payment effectively became an illegal donation to Trump’s campaign under the theory that his candidacy benefited from Daniels’ silence.

Jordan, who signed the letter alongside Oversight Committee chairman James Comer (R., Ky.) and House Administration Committee chairman Bryan Steil (R., Wi.), claimed that the statute of limitations explained the “rush to judgment” and that the campaign-finance violation was one the Department of Justice had already declined to prosecute.

The trio claimed that Michael Cohen has no credibility as a lead witness and that Bragg has pursued this case despite internal dissension within the DA’s office.

They also zeroed in on Trump’s presidential candidacy as a possible motivating factor for the prosecution. Trump himself posted in all caps on Truth Social Sunday, saying: “Alvin Bragg should be held accountable for the crime of ‘interference in a presidential election.'”

“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,” Jordan and company wrote.

On Saturday, Bragg responded internally to the increased pressure on his office. He said in a memo to staff obtained by Politico: “We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.”

The New York investigation into Trump looks to be at a point of culmination. Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen testified last Monday and Daniels met with prosecutors Wednesday, though she did not testify in front of the grand jury herself. Trump was also offered the opportunity to testify, a move which indicates an indictment is near.

It also emerged that Robert Costello, Cohen’s ex-legal adviser, will testify to the grand jury Monday in a last-minute move. A person familiar with the matter told CNN that Costello contacted both the Manhattan DA’s office and lawyers for Trump to offer evidence that contradicts what Cohen has said publicly about the alleged hush-money payments. Cohen is said to have made the payment of $130,000 to Daniels on Trump’s behalf and to have been later reimbursed for it. When the fixer pleaded guilty to federal charges, he said he facilitated the payment in coordination with and at the direction of Trump.

Cohen has been asked to make himself available as a rebuttal witness Monday.

Trump’s advisers privately warned him against calling for protests. They were worried about the optics of a Manhattan protest considering the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. While Republicans have decried the impending prosecution, with former vice president Mike Pence calling it “politically charged,” many have come out against a protest.

“I don’t think people should protest this, no,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said during a news conference Sunday, as quoted by the Washington Post. “And I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn’t believe that, either.”

“Nobody should harm one another. We want calmness out there,” McCarthy added.

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