Bragg’s office: GOP effort risks undermining probe
The Manhattan district attorney, who has brought charges against former President Trump, is warning Congress against interfering with the legal proceedings.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg‘s (D) office, which announced unprecedented charges against Trump on Thursday, is calling the House GOP congressional oversight effort a “dangerous usurpation.”
The indictment against Trump is currently under seal, meaning we don’t yet know the exact charges, while Trump is expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in New York. He has denied any wrongdoing.
READ: Trump’s response to indictment in hush money case
Leslie Dubeck, general counsel for Bragg’s office, responded to GOP committee chairmen after they alleged last week that the investigation into hush money payments to an adult-film star during the 2016 campaign was politically motivated and demanded to see documents related to the probe.
“What neither Mr. Trump nor Congress may do is interfere with the ordinary course of proceedings in New York State,” Dubeck wrote to the chairs of the GOP-led House panels.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) first wrote to Bragg demanding testimony and documents on March 20.
Dubeck said in reference to a second letter from the chairmen, “We did not engage in a point-by-point rebuttal of your letter because our Office is legally constrained in how it publicly discusses pending criminal proceedings[.] … That secrecy is critical to protecting the privacy of the target of any criminal investigation as well as the integrity of the independent grand jury’s proceedings.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday after news of the indictment broke, “The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
The charges are expected to dominate the political conversation through the weekend (stay with The Hill’s coverage of the Sunday shows here).
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Reactions to Trump’s indictment have been rolling in from declared and potential Republican presidential contenders, mostly consisting of support for the former president and criticism of Bragg.
One notable exception so far: former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R).
Hutchinson, who is weighing a bid, said Friday, “When a public official is indicted, I think with regard to the office, the office is more important than the person and they should step aside.” He also said, “This is a case that I would not have brought based on the facts that I understand.”
Declared candidate Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, said the indictment is “more about revenge than it is justice.”
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, another high-profile declared candidate, said it’s a “dangerously politicized prosecution.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to announce his 2024 decision in the coming months, said, “The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head.” He also said Florida wouldn’t assist in an extradition request.
See more reactions here.
The Hill’s Max Greenwood and Amie Parnes reported on different views about how the indictment could affect Trump’s 2024 prospects:
“[M]any Republicans said that the indictment would only strengthen his standing among an influential conservative base and complicate his GOP rivals’ efforts to cut into his support in an expectedly contentious 2024 primary.”
“Yet some Republicans said that the indictment carries considerable risks for Trump. He is the first current or former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges, and many in the GOP have already grown weary from the various controversies and dramas that have swirled around Trump and his political career.”
Biden, Harris decline to weigh in on Trump charges
President Biden declined to comment on the indictment when asked repeatedly by reporters on Friday.
Similarly, Vice President Harris said: “I am not going to comment on an ongoing criminal case as it relates to the former president.”
Lawmakers react to first indictment of a former president
Lawmakers are being far less tight-lipped than the White House on the charges filed against Trump.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a top congressional ally of Trump, said political opponents are “trying to bleed him [Trump] dry” during an interview on Fox News and called on viewers to donate to the former president.
Graham also tweeted Friday, “How can President Trump avoid prosecution in New York?” along with, “On the way to the DA’s office on Tuesday, Trump should smash some windows, rob a few shops and punch a cop. He would be released IMMEDIATELY!”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) weighed in: “As this case progresses let us neither celebrate nor destroy. As the former president continues to call for violence in his name, let all of us, as Democrats and Republicans, condemn his efforts to incite. We are better than that and justice benefits all of us.”
Here’s a compilation of other responses to the news from Democratic and Republican House members.
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Monday: President Biden is scheduled to visit Cummins Power Generation Facility in Fridley, Minn. as part of the “Investing in America” tour.
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