Congressional Republicans Tuesday stepped up attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for what they call “persecution” of former President Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels hush money probe.
As an indictment of Trump looms, GOP lawmakers demanded Bragg unveil details of the probe and warned that they plan to summon him to testify about it on Capitol Hill.
“Alvin Bragg is overstepping his bounds as a prosecutor. That’s the essence of political persecution,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said Tuesday. “He’s living outside the boundaries of his prosecutorial authority. Congress should look into that.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, speaking from a GOP congressional retreat in Orlando, accused Bragg of selective prosecution for going after Trump for the hush money scandal, claiming that other campaigns were fined and not prosecuted criminally for lying about the real purpose of expenses.
“In your heart of hearts, you know this is political,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.
“Alvin Bragg should be hauled in front of Congress to testify under oath,” added Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)
The chairmen of three GOP-led House committees whipped off a letter to Bragg on Monday demanding that he testify about the Trump case.
“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former president of the United States and current declared candidate for that office,” the letter said.
Republicans hope to shift the public focus from Trump’s alleged misdeeds to what they claim is Bragg’s overzealous pursuit of the former president.
But Democrats and legal experts say it is inappropriate for Congress to interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation, particularly one being handled by a state prosecutor.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) called GOP efforts to grill Bragg “an astonishing and unprecedented abuse of power” and accused Republican leaders of doing Trump’s bidding to derail the prosecution of him.
McCarthy insisted Tuesday that he has not spoken to Trump about the probe.
Nikki Haley, the only major announced presidential rival to Trump, also accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of using the probe to score “political points.”
“When you get into political prosecutions like this, it’s more about revenge than it is about justice,” Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, said late Monday.
Haley spoke out a day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another putative GOP White House candidate, also denounced Bragg for targeting Trump.
DeSantis made a point of also dinging Trump for getting himself into the R-rated mess in the first place.
Grand jury secrecy laws would likely prevent Bragg from publicly discussing the Trump case, especially before any potential indictment is handed down.
Trump defense lawyers say they do not expect the panel to decide until Wednesday at the earliest whether to charge the former president.
Trump is accused of paying $130,000 to Daniels to keep the porn star quiet about a previous sexual encounter in the days before the 2016 presidential election.
He later reimbursed ex-fixer Michael Cohen but claimed the cash was for “legal expenses.”
Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York but can be charged as a felony if the crime is committed in furtherance of another crime.
Trump is also facing myriad other criminal probes including a Georgia investigation into election interference.
Federal special counsel Jack Smith is investigating Trump’s taking classified government documents when he left the White House as well as his role in overturning the 2020 election and inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
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