Comer defends House GOP calls for Manhattan DA to testify about Trump probe

·3 min read

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., defended his decision Sunday to investigate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s ongoing probe into a hush money payment made by former President Donald Trump.

Bragg, Comer argued on CNN’s “State of the Union”, “has no business” investigating Trump for what he says is a federal crime. If anything, the investigation should be "done by the Department of Justice of the federal level," Comer said.

While it is still unknown what Trump could be charged with in the Manhattan probe, multiple news reports say that it would likely be linked to a misdemeanor charge for falsifying business records, a state crime.

Still, Comer said the investigation “is about politics,” framing the possible indictment of a former president as politicized. If anything, Comer said, the Department of Justice should handle the probe.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., questions witnesses during the first public hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 08, 2023 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., questions witnesses during the first public hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 08, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Manhattan DA says House GOP request has no 'legitimate basis'

Comer, along with two other House GOP chairs, sent a letter on Monday requesting that Bragg testify to Congress about the ongoing investigation into Trump over concerns  that the investigation is “a politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”

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Bragg’s office rejected the request, saying that the lawmakers, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, head of the Administration Committee and Comer have no authority to step in on a state investigation.

The request for testimony, Leslie Dubeck, Bragg’s general counsel, wrote, “is an unprecedent inquiry into a pending local prosecution” and the chairs have no “legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.”

The chairs responded Saturday, writing regardless that the investigation is a local probe, the possible indictment of Trump concerns “substantial federal interests.”

Bragg responded again on Saturday evening, saying in a statement "It is not appropriate for Congress to interfere with pending legal investigations" and that the request "serves only to hinder, disrupt and undermine the legitimate work of our dedicated prosecutors."

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg leaves his office as the grand jury continues to hear evidence against former President Donald Trump on March 22, 2023 in New York City.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg leaves his office as the grand jury continues to hear evidence against former President Donald Trump on March 22, 2023 in New York City.

Worries about violence grow as potential indictment looms

With a possible indictment looming, Trump has repeatedly urged his supporters to protest if legal action is taken against him.

Trump warned of “potential death and destruction” Friday on Truth Social, his social media platform. Those calls and warnings have raised concerns from lawmakers and law enforcement agencies about potential violence.

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With the specter of a possible indictment, Bragg's profile has been raised  as possibly the first prosecutor in history to charge a former president. Bragg has also faced violent threats.

Bragg was the target of a threatening letter Friday, which contained an undisclosed substance that “was immediately contained.” The substance was later determined to be not dangerous.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Waco Regional Airport on March 25, 2023 in Waco, Texas.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Waco Regional Airport on March 25, 2023 in Waco, Texas.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Comer defends House GOP investigation into possible Trump indictment