Skip to content

Trump comment adds fuel to House push to cut DOJ funds

Republicans have floated the idea of using congressional spending power to respond to the New York indictment of the former president

Former President Donald Trump arrives at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to make statements Tuesday after being arraigned in New York City.
Former President Donald Trump arrives at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to make statements Tuesday after being arraigned in New York City. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

House Republicans already had floated the use of congressional appropriations power to retaliate against the state felony charges filed against Donald Trump — and then came the former president’s all-caps post on social media Wednesday.

Trump called for Congress to “DEFUND THE DOJ AND FBI UNTIL THEY COME TO THEIR SENSES,” in a Truth Social post that followed his arraignment on 34 charges of falsifying business records tied to hush payments to two women prior to the 2016 election.

Trump also gave a speech at his Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, on Tuesday night, where he railed against the multiple criminal investigations against him, called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg a “criminal” and federal special prosecutor Jack Smith a “real lunatic” for investigating the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Trump’s comments potentially could fuel any Republican attempt to use the appropriations process in response to the charges, which would complicate the efforts of their narrow House majority to pass spending legislation. There’s also no indication Senate Democrats who control that chamber would go along with any such cuts.

Congress returns later this month from a recess, and House Republicans in the middle of the appropriations process for fiscal 2024 already will be looking for cuts. Speaker Kevin McCarthy promised holdouts of his bid for speaker that the chamber would write the fiscal 2024 appropriations bills at a fiscal 2022 topline level, which would require about $142 billion in cuts, or 9 percent.

Republican comments

McCarthy tweeted last month ahead of the indictment by Bragg that he was “directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”

And after Trump’s arraignment Tuesday, McCarthy tweeted that the investigation “admittedly using federal funds” and at the same time Bragg is “arguing that the peoples’ representatives in Congress lack jurisdiction to investigate” the New York prosecution.

“Not so. Bragg’s weaponization of the federal justice process will be held accountable by Congress,” McCarthy said.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who filed a likely record of more than 500 bills to cut federal spending last week, told One America News he would like to target federal funding for Bragg’s office.

“I am disgusted with District Attorney Bragg’s office. They’ve spent thousands of dollars in federal funds to investigate President Trump and receive millions more in federal grants. Congress should immediately cease funding this weaponized office,” Biggs said Monday on Twitter.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, lumped the response to the New York indictment with the congressional response to other investigations of the former president, and said Congress may look to defund federal agencies he thinks are interfering with elections.

“We control the power of the purse, and that’s, we’re gonna have to look at the appropriations process and limit funds going to some of these agencies, particularly the ones who are engaging in the most egregious behavior,” Jordan said.

Fox News host Maria Bartiromo asked whether that included the Justice Department and FBI, and Jordan said it did.

Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn., criticized Bragg’s prosecution as political. “All federal funding should be pulled from his weaponized office,” Harshbarger tweeted.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who spoke outside the New York courthouse Tuesday to support Trump, tweeted last month that she would vote against any spending that does not cut funding to the DOJ and other federal law enforcement agencies. Last year, she advocated to cut funding for Smith’s investigation.

Trump currently faces an array of criminal investigations, including the felony indictment in New York, a Georgia grand jury probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election result in the state and two federal criminal probes led by special counsel Jack Smith.

Those are tied to Trump’s storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and efforts to overturn the election that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland already testified before House and Senate appropriations subcommittees about the Justice Department budget.

Recent Stories

Menendez told colleagues he’s not quitting. Now what?

House panel details the ethics rules of a shutdown

US aid to Egypt under new scrutiny after Menendez indictment

House Republicans short on evidence to impeach Biden, witnesses tell panel

At the Races: Garden State of chaos

Biden pushes bipartisanship ahead of potential shutdown