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Prosecutor taking on Trump sues GOP congressman for interference

Fighting the subpoena of one of his former top prosecutors, the Manhattan district attorney wants a federal injunction.

MANHATTAN (CN) — The district attorney who brought unprecedented criminal charges last week against former President Donald Trump filed suit Tuesday to stop a legislative intrusion into that case.

Filed in the Southern District of New York, the civil complaint from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accuses Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of “an abuse of congressional process and a brazen incursion into New York’s exercise of its sovereign prosecutorial powers."

This past Thursday, just 48 hours after Trump surrendered himself for arraignment in Lower Manhattan, Jordan issued a subpoena of Mark Pomerantz, the lawyer who was once at the head of the team in Bragg's office investigating Trump.

Bragg seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to bar both the enforcement of the subpoena and to prohibit Pomerantz from complying with it.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. A Trump appointee, Vyskocil declined to immediately impose the temporary restraining order that Bragg requested but scheduled a hearing on Bragg’s motion for Wednesday, April 19. Jordan's committee has proposed to take Pomerantz's deposition the next day, April 20.

Bragg is represented in the matter by Gibson Dunn, which acts as outside counsel for the District Attorney's Office. They call the subpoena of Pomerantz a "transparent campaign to intimidate and attack" Bragg.

“Subpoenaing a former line prosecutor to talk about an ongoing criminal prosecution and investigation is no less of an affront to state sovereignty than subpoenaing the District Attorney himself,” the complaint states.

Before taking over the District Attorney's Office, Bragg had served in the Southern District of New York as an assistant U.S. attorney, handling fraud and money laundering cases. In another role with the New York state Attorney General's Office, Bragg oversaw a lawsuit that forced Trump's namesake foundation to dissolve.

Pomerantz, a former mafia prosecutor, stepped away from the probe in the DA's office last year. At the time, Bragg had just taken over the Manhattan District Attorney's Office from Cyrus Vance Jr., and 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.

Representatives for Jordan did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday, but the congressman appeared to acknowledge the lawsuit on Twitter. “First, they indict a president for no crime," Jordan wrote. "Then, they sue to block congressional oversight when we ask questions about the federal funds they say they used to do it.”

Bragg’s suit rejects Jordan’s assertion of conducting “oversight” and argues he has no power under the Constitution to oversee state and local criminal matters.

“By definition, then, he has no legitimate legislative purpose for issuing this subpoena," the complaint states. "The subpoena threatens the sovereign powers of the States, confidence in the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, and the integrity of an ongoing criminal prosecution.”

The 34 criminal counts that Bragg unsealed against Trump contend that the former president falsified internal business records at his private company while trying to conceal efforts to illegally influence the 2016 election by arranging payments that silenced claims potentially harmful to his candidacy. Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, went to prison for his role in one of the schemes: payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels to stop her from from going public about an extramarital sexual encounter she claims to have had with Trump years earlier.

Trump pleaded not guilty last week 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.

The GOP-led House committee has sought documents and testimony from Bragg and his office, as well as from Pomerantz. The Democratic Bragg has vehemently rejected those demands.

He called "Jordan’s subpoena is an unconstitutional attempt to undermine an ongoing New York felony criminal prosecution and investigation.”

"As our complaint details, this is an unprecedented, illegitimate interference by Congress that lacks any legal merit and defies basic principles of federalism," Bragg said in a statement Tuesday. "The Manhattan D.A.’s Office focuses on the law and the evidence, not political gamesmanship or threats.”

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Categories / Criminal, Government, Law, Politics

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