The Manhattan district attorney’s office hit back Friday against “unfounded allegations” from House Republicans that the investigation of Donald Trump was politically motivated, as other members of Congress reacted further in the wake of the first indictment of a former president.
A letter Friday from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg lambasted the lawmakers, calling a congressional examination of the Trump case in New York “an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests.”
The letter responded to letters on the Trump investigation from House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil of Wisconsin and House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James R. Comer of Kentucky.
Leslie Dubeck, general counsel for the district attorney’s office, wrote that with House Republicans joining Trump in political attacks, “it appears you are acting more like criminal defense counsel trying to gather evidence for a client than a legislative body seeking to achieve a legitimate legislative objective.”
“As Committee Chairmen, you could use the stature of your office to denounce these attacks and urge respect for the fairness of our justice system and for the work of the impartial grand jury,” the letter states. “Instead, you and many of your colleagues have chosen to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s efforts to vilify and denigrate the integrity of elected state prosecutors and trial judges.”
The sharp language from the district attorney’s office comes a day after Republican lawmakers unleashed a firestorm of criticism against Bragg over what they called an unfair and politically motivated investigation.
“We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your demand for information, and let the criminal justice process proceed without unlawful political interference,” Dubeck wrote.
The news of an indictment kept drawing attacks from Republicans on Friday. “On the way to the DA’s office on Tuesday, Trump should smash some windows, rob a few shops and punch a cop,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted. “He would be released IMMEDIATELY!”
Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who previously called for congressional committees to subpoena Bragg’s records related to the grand jury investigation, tweeted that she would be going to New York on Tuesday, when Trump might be arraigned.
“We MUST protest the unconstitutional WITCH HUNT!” Greene said.
Trump sent several fundraising pitches based on the indictment that included a T-shirt.
“And what better way to show your support for President Trump and our incredible movement during this dark chapter in our nation’s history than to proudly wear the brand-new “I Stand with President Trump” T-shirt,” a fundraising email states.
“These new shirts are flying off the shelves, Friend, but because we know you’re one of the President’s biggest supporters, we’re holding one just for YOU until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.”
Democratic members of Congress have mostly reacted to the indictment with statements of support for the justice system. Speaker Nancy Pelosi got criticized for a statement late Thursday that said in part, “everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence.”
The letter from Bragg’s office is the latest in a back-and-forth between the office and committee chairmen.
On March 20, Jordan and the two other committee chairmen issued a letter requesting documents and testimony from Bragg. The lawmakers asked for all communications between the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the federal Justice Department related to his office’s investigation of Trump.
The Republicans, who signed the letter before Trump’s formal indictment, criticized Bragg and characterized a possible indictment as “motivated by political calculations.”
In the letter Friday, the district attorney’s office said the investigation was conducted through an independent grand jury composed of average citizens. The office argued that the congressional committees do not have jurisdiction to oversee a state criminal prosecution.
“Like any other defendant, Mr. Trump is entitled to challenge these charges in court and avail himself of all processes and protections that New York State’s robust criminal procedure affords,” read the letter. “What neither Mr. Trump nor Congress may do is interfere with the ordinary course of proceedings in New York State.”
Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.