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Judge declines to halt House subpoena about Trump probe

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg quickly moved to appeal the ruling that a former employee in his office must testify

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, leaves a House GOP caucus meeting at the Capitol Hill Club last year.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, leaves a House GOP caucus meeting at the Capitol Hill Club last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A federal judge declined Wednesday to temporarily halt a congressional subpoena for information about the investigation into Donald Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who quickly moved to appeal the ruling.

Bragg filed a lawsuit earlier this month and sought a temporary restraining order to stop a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to Mark Pomerantz, a former special assistant district attorney who took part in the office’s investigation of Trump and his businesses.

U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil held a hearing on the request Wednesday and then sided with the committee. Vyskocil, who was appointed by Trump, ruled the subpoena was issued with a valid legislative purpose and Pomerantz should comply with a subpoena that demands he appear for testimony Thursday.

“It is not the role of the federal judiciary to dictate what legislation Congress may consider or how it should conduct its deliberations in that connection,” Vyskocil wrote. “Mr. Pomerantz must appear for the congressional deposition. No one is above the law.”

Bragg indicated he would ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to review the decision, and his lawyer said he intends to ask for an emergency order to keep Pomerantz from having to comply while that plays out in court.

Absent another action from the court, it was not immediately clear Wednesday when Pomerantz may have to appear for his deposition. “The parties are encouraged to speak with one another to reach a mutually agreeable compromise regarding how the deposition of Mr. Pomerantz will proceed,” the opinion said.

The civil lawsuit marked an escalation in the political back and forth surrounding the New York criminal case against Trump, who pleaded not guilty earlier this month to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The indictment sparked a wave of outrage from conservatives, who see the case as politically motivated.

A spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, praised the ruling in a statement Wednesday.

“Today’s decision shows that Congress has the ability to conduct oversight and issue subpoenas” to people like Pomerantz, the spokesman, Russell Dye, said, adding that the panel looks “forward to his deposition before the Judiciary Committee.”

Dye’s statement did not indicate when Pomerantz may be deposed. A court filing Wednesday evening said Pomerantz was scheduled to testify Thursday morning.

Vyskocil said in the ruling Wednesday that Bragg complained of “political interference” in the local prosecution, but he does not operate outside of the “political arena.”

“He is an elected prosecutor in New York County with constituents, some of whom wish to see Bragg wield the force of law against the former President and a current candidate for the Republican presidential nomination,” Vyskocil wrote.

Meanwhile, Jordan launched a political response to what he viewed as a political prosecution and a clear abuse of power, the judge wrote, emphasizing that the court did not endorse the agenda of either side.

“The sole question before the Court at this time is whether Bragg has a legal basis to quash a congressional subpoena that was issued with a valid legislative purpose. He does not,” Vyskocil wrote.

In a letter accompanying the subpoena to Pomerantz, Jordan said the committee may consider “potential legislative reforms that would, if enacted, insulate current and former Presidents from such politically motivated state and local prosecutions.”

Those proposals, which also included a bar on using federal funds to prosecute a current or former president and the ability for a president to move any state court case to federal court, factored into Vyskocil’s decision Wednesday.

Vyskocil tied those proposals to the “valid legislative purpose” needed to justify a congressional subpoena.

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