MANHATTAN (CN) — Donald Trump's indictment would be the first time in history that a current or former U.S. president has faced criminal charges, but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg coolly rejected a maneuver by lawmakers on Thursday for access to his investigation.
Three House Republicans issued the demand to Bragg on Tuesday, framing the hush-money probe that puts Trump at the center of a campaign-finance scheme as an abuse of prosecutorial authority. Bragg has his own doubts meanwhile for why the congressmen would make, as he called it, such "an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution."
"The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene," Leslie Dubeck, general counsel at the DA's office, wrote in a five-page response. "Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry."
Later, Dubeck called requests by Representatives Jim Jordan, Bryan Steil and James Comer "an unlawful incursion into New York's sovereignty."
The potential indictment of Trump stems from a yearslong probe into the $130,000 paid to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Trump's longtime fixer and former lawyer Michael Cohen went to prison after admitting as part of a plea deal that he cut the check to keep Daniels from going public with her allegation that she and Trump had sex in 2006 when the future first lady, Melania Trump, had just given birth.
Jordan, Steil and Comer — who lead the House Judiciary, Administration and Oversight committees, respectively — accused Bragg in their letter Tuesday of trying to interfere in the 2024 election in which Trump is seeking a return to the presidency.
They also lambasted the prosecutor for elevating what they called a misdemeanor matter to a felony charge.
“This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis — any basis — on which to bring charges, ultimately settling on a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue,” wrote Jordan, whom Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in one of his last acts as president.
Dubeck on the other hand called Congress an inappropriate arbiter of pending criminal matters.
“The District Attorney pledged that the DA's Office would publicly state the conclusion of our investigation whether we conclude our work without bringing charges, or move forward with an indictment he stands by that pledge,” the lawyer wrote Thursday. “And if charges are brought at the conclusion, it will be because the rule of law and faithful execution of the District Attorney's duty require it.”
What the DA's office is willing to do, Dubeck added, is to “meet and confer to understand whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be accommodated” without impeding New York’s sovereign police power.
“We simply expect that our office also be treated in a manner consistent with New York's status as a residuary sovereign and joint participant in the governance of the Nation,” the letter concludes.
The Manhattan grand jury has not given any indication of when or even if it will return an indictment against Trump, whose prediction that he would be invited this past Tuesday proved inaccurate.
Trump, not for the first time, worked Saturday morning to stoke an uprising against the government,
“PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK,” the former reality television star wrote on his Truth Social platform, citing "illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan District Attorneys office."
The grand jury is expected to be nearing its conclusion. After its session were abruptly canceled for the rest of the week on Wednesday, however, the timeline of a potential indictment has been pushed off.
Trump claimed Thursday that internal discord is afoot. “Total disarray in the Manhattan D.A.’s Office,” he wrote. “Tremendous dissension and chaos because they have NO CASE, and many of the honest people in the Office know it, and want to do the right thing.”
New York law requires that grand jury proceedings be conducted in secret.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment on the status of case.
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