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Ex-prosecutor who wrote a book on Trump criminal probe can’t duck subpoena

A Trump-appointed federal judge cleared the way for Mark Pomerantz to testify in less than 24 hours before the House Judiciary Committee.

MANHATTAN (CN) — House Republicans won permission from a federal judge Wednesday to subpoena a former assistant district attorney who was once at the helm of the criminal probe that recently brought charges in New York City against former President Donald Trump.

“The subpoena was issued with a ‘valid legislative purpose’ in connection with the ‘broad’ and ‘indispensable’ congressional power to “conduct investigations,’” U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil wrote.

"No one is above the law," Vyskocil continued, wryly parroting language often used in court cases that don't go Trump's way.

The subpoena of Mark Pomerantz was issued two days after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office indicted the former president who appointed Vyskocil to her seat in the Southern District of New York.

“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 Thursday.

“Mr. Pomerantz must appear for the congressional deposition."

District Attorney Alvin Bragg had pushed the court to take action earlier, but Vyskocil, who previously served as a federal bankruptcy judge, declined to do so, instead scheduled a initial hearing for Wednesday, one day before the committee plans to draw out Pomerantz's testimony under the subpoena.

“There’s politics going on on both sides here, let’s be honest,” the judge acknowledged earlier this afternoon at the hearing.

Repeatedly, she framed the arguments against the subpoena from District Attorney Alvin Bragg as overbroad.

“That’s what in front of me, not the political rhetoric,” she said. “That’s all color, that’s theater, but that’s not what before me.”

With little time to spare, a spokesperson for the Manhattan DA’s Office said they “respectfully disagree with the District Court’s decision and are seeking a stay pending appeal.”

The House Judiciary Committee led by Republican Jim Jordan launched an investigation of Bragg's office in the immediate lead-up to Trump's indictment. Though Jordan has framed the testimony of Pomerantz as vital to congressional oversight of the investigation, Pomerantz refused last month to cooperate voluntarily. Neither the lawyer nor his representatives immediately commented on the ruling.

Pomerantz has not been involved in the Trump probe for over a year, having stepped away soon after Bragg took over the Manhattan District Attorney's Office from Cyrus Vance Jr. At the time, the Trump investigation appeared to be winding down.

Pomerantz would go on in media appearances, and in his book “People vs Donald Trump: an Inside Account,” to describe the Trump probe as a “zombie case” that returned from the dead after investigators had moved on.

At the instruction of Bragg’s office, Pomerantz cited the ongoing investigation in refusing to cooperate with the House probe.

Bragg made a similar case when he sued to enjoin the resulting subpoena, accusing the Ohio Republican of “an abuse of congressional process and a brazen incursion into New York’s exercise of its sovereign prosecutorial powers."

The congressman applauded Judge Vyskocil's ruling early Wednesday evening.

"Today's decision shows that Congress has the ability to conduct oversight and issue subpoenas to people like Mark Pomerantz, and we look forward to his deposition before the Judiciary Committee," a spokesman for the House chairman wrote.

Earlier this week in a 35-page opposition brief, Jordan's lawyers defended the congressional subpoena by pointing both to the federal funding that the Manhattan DA receives and to a clause of Constitution mandating that senators and representatives “shall not be questioned in any other Place” for “any Speech or Debate in either House.”

Referring to that clause at the hearing Wednesday, Judge Vyskocil said she interpreted it to mean that members of the House are “immune from suit, not just liability: suit.”

Two attorneys at Gibson Dunn who act as outside counsel to the District Attorney's Office conceded meanwhile that Bragg's office had used $5,000 in federal funds to investigate Trump and his namesake family company.

“Is that a valid legislative purpose, or why is it not,” Judge Vyskocil asked.

The ruling came in the same week that Jordan brought his committee to lower Manhattan for a chaotic field hearing built on the premise that Bragg approach to policing in the Big Apple is soft on crime.

Against the GOP's rhetoric, however, statistics show that violent crime in Manhattan has dropped in the year since Bragg took office.

Bragg spoke out this week that if Jordan “really cared about public safety,” he would visit some of the major cities in his home state, where violent crime is reportedly higher than in New York.

Jordan, who represents Ohio's 4th Congressional District, also leads the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Bragg on social media, recently describing him along with two other Black prosecutors leading cases against Trump — New York Attorney General Letitia James and Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis — as a "group of Thugs, Radical Left Marxists, Racists, and Lunatics," intent on interfering with his 2024 presidential bid.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts in the Manhattan criminal case, and was released on his own recognizance after his arrest. The next hearing in the case is set for December 2023.

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Categories / Criminal, Government, Law

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