April 24, 2024

Alvin Bragg, Manhattan district attorney, announces charges against Steve Bannon, former adviser to Donald Trump, during a press conference in New York, US, on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. Bannon is facing New York state money-laundering, fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly bilking thousands of contributors to a privately funded US-Mexico border wall of more than $15 million. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accused House Republicans of launching an “an unprecedent inquiry into a pending local prosecution,” while defending the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payments to an adult film actress during the 2016 campaign.

In a new letter to Republican lawmakers who earlier this week had sought information about the probe, Leslie Dubeck, the general counsel for the district attorney’s office, told the GOP House committee leaders that they lacked a “legitimate basis for congressional inquiry” and she noted that their requests for information “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 called the Republicans’ claims that the probe was politically motivated “unfounded.”

She added that, “regardless, the proper forum for such a challenge is the Courts of New York, which are equipped to consider and review such objections.”

She requested that the committees meet and confer with Bragg’s office to discuss whether the House has a “legitimate legislative” purpose for what it is seeking and whether those records could be turned over without infringing on New York’s sovereign interests.

The previous letter demanding information about Bragg’s investigation was sent Monday by House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, House Oversight Chairman James Comer and House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil, who criticized the hush money probe into Trump as an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”

Jordan told CNN “we’re reviewing the letter” when asked for his response to the letter from the general counsel of the Manhattan DA. Jordan repeated his answer when asked if he would subpoena Bragg.

Comer told CNN the “Judiciary [committee] is the one that’s taking the lead on this” when asked about the Manhattan DA office’s response to the initial request from Congress.

Comer explained that his panel has a large staff and enough resources to help the House Judiciary Committee “get the information.”

Dubeck’s five-page response to the Republicans’ demands – which included testimony from Bragg as well as documents and communications related to the investigation – cited case law and legal arguments for why the GOP requests amounted to an “unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty.”

She said that the Constitution’s 10th Amendment limited the federal government’s authority over local law enforcement and argued that Congress specially is not an executive branch entity with law enforcement powers.

Pointing to laws protecting grand jury secrecy, she said that the House Republicans were seeking “non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law,” and therefore, she argued, complying with the committees’ request would interfere with law enforcement.

Dubeck also scoffed at the Republicans’ claims that they needed testimony from Bragg and the requested documents as part of a congressional review of federal public safety funds.

Dubeck wrote, “the Letter does not suggest any way in which either the District Attorney’s testimony about his prosecutorial decisions or the documents and communications of former Assistant District Attorneys on a pending criminal investigation would shed light on that review.”

But, she added, “nonetheless, to assist Congress in understanding the ways in which the DA’s Office has used federal funds, we are preparing and will submit a letter describing its use of federal funds.”

CNN has reached out to the three House committees involved for comment.

By  and , CNN

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