Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sued in federal court on Tuesday to block Rep. Jim Jordan from using his position as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to undermine and interfere in Bragg’s prosecution of Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records. But saying Bragg sued does not get to the level of fury and outrage—all of it justified—tightly contained in the legal language of the court filing.
In the very first sentence, Bragg describes Jordan’s effort as an “unprecedently brazen and unconstitutional attack by members of Congress on an ongoing New York State criminal prosecution.”
The lawsuit seeks most immediately to block Jordan’s subpoena to Mark Pomerantz, a former special assistant district attorney who left the district attorney’s office over what he said was Bragg’s unwillingness to pursue charges against Trump. Jordan has called Pomerantz to testify on April 20, and the filing argues that Jordan has used a series of “baseless pretext[s] for hauling Mr. Pomerantz to Washington for a retaliatory political circus designed to undermine the rule of law and New York’s police power.” But Bragg is also seeking a declaratory judgment against any future subpoenas from Jordan to Bragg or any other current or former member of his office to testify about this investigation and prosecution.
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Bragg makes the case that such a judgment is necessary because Jordan’s efforts here are intended to interfere in the ongoing criminal prosecution, and that he’s planning more subpoenas and more efforts to harass, intimidate, and distract Bragg and the rest of his office—in addition to attempting to gain any information he could use to help Trump derail the prosecution. All of the reasons Congress cannot interfere in an ongoing state or local prosecution have been amply detailed in Bragg’s previous responses to Jordan, but he makes them again here, with a little added insight into Jordan’s aims:
Congress has no power to supervise state criminal prosecutions. Nor does Congress have the power to serve subpoenas “for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to punish those investigated.” … Yet that is precisely what Chairman Jordan is trying to do.
Jordan is engaged in an abuse of power based on transparent falsehoods—and, yes, for “personal aggrandizement or to punish those investigated”—and he’s doing it right out in the open. He is also, Bragg argues, “participating in a campaign of intimidation, retaliation, and obstruction” alongside of Trump’s own violent rhetoric and incitement, incitement that has led to the district attorney’s office receiving “more than 1,000 calls and emails from Mr. Trump’s supporters, many of which are threatening and racially charged.”
The lawsuit amply demonstrates how Jordan’s claims about his interests in the subpoena cannot be relied on. Jordan and other congressional Republicans “have changed their story multiple times, creating new and constantly shifting purported legislative interests and purposes that supposedly justify the Committee’s unwarranted ‘incursion’ into a state criminal case,” it notes. That’s happened every time Bragg has responded to a demand from Jordan: Bragg explains why Jordan’s demand is unlawful and won’t comply, and Jordan comes back with an attempt to make it look a little bit more legal, failing every time.
Bragg’s filing lays out in detail the reasons Jordan’s subpoena fails legal tests:
Namely, the purported legislative purposes Chairman Jordan has invoked to support the subpoena are unsupported, speculative, specious, and/or unconstitutional. The subpoena is more broad than reasonably necessary to support any claimed congressional objective. Chairman Jordan and the Judiciary Committee have offered no evidence in support of any legislative purpose they have attempted to invoke to justify their subpoena. And the subpoena is unduly burdensome because it would substantially burden both the New York criminal justice system and the District Attorney’s Office as it prepares for Mr. Trump’s criminal trial. The Committee’s subpoena also burdens the District Attorney and the criminal justice system by politicizing Mr. Trump’s trial and undermining the public’s faith in the integrity of the criminal justice system. The Committee’s subpoena to Mr. Pomerantz and its other intrusive serial requests for documents and testimony are plainly aimed at burdening the District Attorney’s Office by harassing them, attempting to intimidate them, and trying to distract them from their preparation of Mr. Trump’s criminal case.
Comparing Bragg’s detailed responses to Jordan’s demands and now this lawsuit with what Jordan has had to say make it obvious who has the law on his side. Jordan is reliably squirrelly while Bragg offers citation after citation to make his case. But then, as this lawsuit suggests at several points, much of Jordan’s goal here is about getting attention and using publicity and intimidation to derail the prosecution, amplifying Trump’s constant social media ranting against Bragg and the judge and portraying it as illegitimate enough to merit congressional intervention.
But Bragg is clearly showing that his office can do more than walk and chew gum at the same time. It can prosecute Donald Trump, prosecute other alleged criminals in New York City, and fight off Republican intimidation attempts.
Jim Jordan has failed to intimidate Alvin Bragg from a distance, so he's going to New York
Jim Jordan uses House Judiciary to sabotage Manhattan case against Donald Trump
On today’s episode, Markos and Kerry are joined by a friend of the podcast, Democratic political strategist Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg was one of the few outsiders who, like Daily Kos, kept telling the world that nothing supported the idea of a red wave. Simon and the crew break down his strategy for Democratic candidates to achieve a 55% popular vote in all elections—a number that a few years ago would have seemed unattainable, but now feels within reach.