As a possible indictment looms over former President Donald Trump, House Republicans are coming to his defense and arguing that Alvin Bragg — the New York prosecutor investigating alleged hush money paid by Trump to adult film actress Stormy Daniels — is politically motivated and his probe won’t stand up in court.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer, R-Ky., and House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil, R-Wis., kicked off their own probe on Monday, sending Bragg a letter demanding documents, communications and testimony related to his investigation of the former president.
The three chairmen called a possible indictment “an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority” and said it was based on “a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue.”
They added that if Bragg does indict Trump, Bragg’s actions “will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election.”
They said they expect him to appear as soon possible before Congress but did not set a date for a hearing. They gave Bragg a deadline of Thursday to respond to them to set up a possible appearance.
Trump claimed over the weekend in a post on social media that he would be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest. But there has been no official announcement of a criminal indictment.
Talk of Trump is dominating a House GOP retreat in Florida
House Republicans are huddling at their annual retreat in Orlando, Fla., and the former president, who is running for the GOP nomination in 2024, is dominating the conversation.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy fielded several questions about Trump at a press conference Sunday evening, and largely focused his response on attacking Bragg’s tenure and legal approach, instead of defending Trump’s behavior.
McCarthy slammed Bragg’s record on crime, saying it helped Republicans retake the House majority in 2022.
“One of the reasons we won races in New York is based upon this DA of not protecting the citizens of New York, and now he’s spending his time on this,” McCarthy said. “And the statute of limitations are gone.” He added about an indictment: “This will not hold up in court, if this is what he wants to do.”
McCarthy did break with the former president on his calls for protests around any announcement of an indictment, telling reporters, “I don’t think people should protest this, no.” He added, “We want calmness out there. Nobody hurt, violence or harm to anything else.”
As House Republicans sought to showcase their legislative agenda in the majority, questions about Trump continued to be front and center — a dynamic they struggled with during his time in the White House.
At a bilingual press conference with Hispanic Republicans Monday morning, the first question was about Bragg’s probe. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., used the same refrain most GOP lawmakers have used, telling reporters, “It certainly smells like it’s political.”