The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Republicans might consider legislation to “insulate” current and former presidents from state prosecutions, among other potential changes in the wake of state charges against Donald Trump in New York.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan laid out the legislative responses in a letter sent along with a subpoena for testimony from a former New York state prosecutor, Mark Pomerantz, who at one time led that office’s investigation into the former president’s finances.
The letter includes some of the first details about how Trump’s allies in the House will justify the use of congressional power to investigate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s decision to charge Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records tied to hush payments to two women prior to the 2016 election.
Jordan wrote that the committee may consider “potential legislative reforms that would, if enacted, insulate current and former Presidents from such politically motivated state and local prosecutions.”
That includes legislation that would bar the use of federal forfeiture funds to prosecute current or former presidents or a presidential candidate, or enhance reporting requirements for those funds, the letter states.
Other potential legislation could allow a former president to move a state prosecution to federal court, or address the potential conflict between the federal law enforcement required to protect a former president and the local law enforcement that controls a local criminal justice system, the letter states.
Jordan’s letter noted that Congress has a “specific and manifestly important interest” in preventing politically motivated prosecutions of current and former presidents in jurisdictions such as New York City, where local prosecutors are elected and trial judges lack life tenure.
The possibility of such prosecutions could have a profound impact on how presidents use their powers while in office, Jordan wrote.
“For example, a President could choose to avoid taking action he believes to be in the national interest because it would negatively impact New York City for fear that he would be subject to a retaliatory prosecution in New York City,” the letter said.
Congress returns later this month from a recess, and Republicans have said they will investigate Bragg’s decision to charge Trump. In a wide-ranging speech following the arraignment Tuesday, Trump called Bragg a “criminal” and criticized the judge overseeing the case.
House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James R. Comer, R-Ky., has said he intends to have Bragg testify before Congress, and several Republicans have called for Congress to use the appropriations process to respond to the charges.
Bragg’s office has resisted congressional inquiries into his investigation, and in a letter to three House committee chairmen called congressional requests an “an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests.”
Pomerantz previously worked as a special assistant district attorney for Bragg’s office before resigning in protest last March. In a resignation letter published by The New York Times, Pomerantz alleged that Trump lied on numerous financial disclosures and Bragg had dragged his feet on seeking an indictment.
Pomerantz, now a founding principal at the Free and Fair Litigation Group, could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.
Ryan Tarinelli contributed to this report.