The House Judiciary Committee and its chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), on Monday filed a response to a motion filed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
The filing comes amid a legal clash between Bragg and Jordan on whether Congress has the authority to investigate Bragg’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump.
It began when Bragg sued to halt a congressional subpoena from Jordan that sought the testimony of Mark Pomerantz, a former Manhattan prosecutor who led an investigation into Trump’s finances.
The filing comes amid a legal clash between Bragg and Jordan on whether Congress has the authority to investigate Bragg’s prosecution of Trump.
In Monday’s 35-page filing (pdf), attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee and Jordan argued that Bragg’s lawsuit to quash Jordan’s subpoena violates the Speech or Debate Clause in the U.S. Constitution.
The attorneys asserted that Jordan’s subpoena serves a valid legislative purpose, and therefore is protected from any interference from the courts under the clause.
They also argued that Congress is within its authority to “examine whether former Presidents are being subject to politically motivated state investigations and prosecutions due to the policies they advanced as President, and, if so, what legislative remedies may be appropriate.”
Pomerantz, who had pushed for an indictment against Trump after having led a probe into the former president’s finances, left the Manhattan district attorney’s office in February 2022 because Bragg initially decided not to pursue a criminal case against Trump. Pomerantz later released a memoir about the case.
Jordan on April 6 subpoenaed (pdf) Pomerantz to provide testimony as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s oversight of Bragg’s “unprecedented indictment” of a former U.S. president. Jordan and the committee had launched a probe into Bragg’s office in the weeks prior to Trump’s indictment on March 30.
In response, Bragg filed a federal lawsuit on April 11 (pdf), asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block the subpoena’s enforcement. But the court turned down Bragg’s emergency request from being entered into the record—at least until a hearing on the matter is held. An initial hearing in the case is scheduled in the Southern District Court of New York for Wednesday afternoon.
GOP Lawmakers Refute Bragg’s Allegation of ‘Threat to Federalism’
Bragg in his lawsuit (pdf) characterized the subpoena of Pomerantz as an “unprecedently [sic] brazen and unconstitutional attack” on Bragg’s prosecution and investigation of Trump.
“That campaign is a direct threat to federalism and the sovereign interests of the State of New York,” Bragg said in the complaint.
He added that Jordan has “no power under the Constitution to oversee state and local criminal matters” and that he has “no legitimate legislative purpose” for issuing the subpoena.
“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,” attorneys for Bragg argued. They said the congressional subpoena to Pomerantz “marks the first time in our nation’s history that Congress has used its compulsory process to interfere with an ongoing state criminal case.”
In a memorandum of law (pdf) to support Bragg’s lawsuit, filed April 11, attorneys said the congressional subpoena both “exceeds Congress’s authority” and “obstructs New York’s sovereign right to enforce its criminal law.”
Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee disagreed with Bragg’s assertions.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), who is also the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, told The Epoch Times that the House Judiciary Committee has an interest in probing Bragg’s case to make sure federal tax dollars are being spent appropriately.
Bragg’s office previously stated that some federal funding has gone into its investigation of Trump or the Trump Organization.
“Our jurisdiction is limited largely to the use of federal funding,” Johnson told The Epoch Times on Monday. “We do have the power of the purse in the house—and at the end of the day, we’ll be proposing legislative reforms that are meaningful and probably looking at some of the expenditure of these funds.”
“If some of that funding has been misspent or misapplied, then we have a responsibility as stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars to track that down and make sure that it’s not,” he added. “Bragg’s office has admitted that they’ve at least used some federal funding, for example, on the pursuit of Donald Trump, and so that’s of interest to us.”
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) echoed Johnson’s view. He told The Epoch Times the House Judiciary Committee didn’t violate any principles of federalism in issuing Pomerantz a subpoena.
Attorneys for Jordan and the House Judiciary Committee noted Monday that the committee started investigating Bragg’s office after “concluding that the prospect of a politically motivated prosecution of a former President could give rise to issues of substantial federal concern.”
They added that the federal government “also has a substantial interest in the welfare of former Presidents.”
Pomerantz is named as a defendant in Bragg’s lawsuit “so that he may continue to abide by the Office’s instruction without facing a risk of contempt proceedings,” a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office told news outlets. The spokesperson also noted that Pomerantz previously indicated he would follow the Manhattan DA’s office’s instruction “not to provide the committee with information or materials relating to his work in the DA’s Office.”
Pomerantz, in a declaration filed Monday to the court (pdf), noted that he wasn’t involved in the decision to indict Trump.
In seeking the court to halt the congressional subpoena, Pomerantz wrote: “Absent some relief from this Court, I will find myself in an impossible position.
“If I refuse to provide information to the Committee, I risk being held in contempt of Congress and referred to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution. If, on the other hand, I defy the District Attorney’s instructions and answer questions, I face possible legal or ethical consequences, including criminal prosecution.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly characterized the nature of the filing by attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. Jordan. They filed a response to Manhattan DA Bragg’s motion in a lawsuit he filed against the committee and Jordan. The Epoch Times regrets the error.
From The Epoch Times