Members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees rebuked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a letter Saturday for refusing to cooperate with their probe into the Stormy Daniels “hush money” case he’s pursuing against former President Donald Trump.
In the latest correspondence, the committee, led by Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, blasted Bragg’s March 23 letter, in which he declined the committee’s request that he hand over documents and testify about what they called an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”
Bragg responded that the committee had no basis for a congressional inquiry as he was constitutionally obligated to protect the enforcement of state laws free from federal interference and accused them of acting on Trump’s behalf.
“Contrary to the central argument set forth in your letter, this matter does not simply involve local or state interests,” the committee shot back on Saturday. “Rather, the potential criminal indictment of a former President of the United States by an elected local prosecutor of the opposing political party (and who will face the prospect of re-election) implicates substantial federal interests, particularly in a jurisdiction where trial-level judges also are popularly elected.”
The signatories — Jordan, Bryan Steil (R-Wisconsin), James Comer (R-Tenn) — argued that prosecuting a former president could affect how a sitting president exercises his powers.
“For example, a President could choose to avoid taking action he believes to be in the national interest because it would negatively impact New York City for fear that he would be subject to a retaliatory prosecution in New York City,” the lawmakers wrote.
The chairmen said Congress must now consider legislation that would “protect former and/or current Presidents from politically motivated prosecutions by state and local officials.”
“Critically, due to your own actions, you are now in possession of information critical to this inquiry,” the letter said.
In response to the new letter, Bragg stood by his decision to not cooperate Saturday.
“It is not appropriate for Congress to interfere with pending local investigations,” a spokesperson for Bragg’s office told The Post in a statement.
“This unprecedented inquiry by federal elected officials into an ongoing matter serves only to hinder, disrupt and undermine the legitimate work of our dedicated prosecutors. As always, we will continue to follow the facts and be guided by the rule of law in everything we do.”
Bragg’s office has been presenting evidence against Trump to a grand jury since late January in connection with a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
The payment was made shortly before the 2016 election from then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the former president in 2006 — which Trump has repeatedly denied.
Prosecutors are reportedly trying to prove that Trump provided the funds and then falsified business records by writing off Cohen’s reimbursement for the Daniels payment as legal fees.
Although that would amount to a misdemeanor under state law, Bragg is reportedly pursuing a novel legal theory that would make it a felony on grounds that the records were falsified in connection with the violation of federal campaign finance rules .
The committee fumed that Bragg’s response letter “did not dispute” that he was reportedly “attempting to upgrade a misdemeanor charge to a felony using an untested legal theory at the same time when you are simultaneously downgrading felony charges to misdemeanors in a majority of other cases in your jurisdiction.”
The back-and-forth began on Monday, when the GOP House members first demanded Bragg hand over all testimony, communications and information that involves the DA’s Office, the Justice Department, and any other law enforcement agencies in their “politically motivated” investigation into Trump.
The committee members also asked for records pertaining to two former DA’s office employees — Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz — who led the investigation into DA’s Trump investigation until they quit last year after Bragg reportedly expressed doubts about moving forward with the case.
In a response on Wednesday, Bragg’s general counsel, Leslie Dubeck, requested a meeting with the chairmen “to understand whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials.”
“While the DA’s Office will not allow a Congressional investigation to impede the exercise of New York’s sovereign police power, this Office will always treat a fellow government entity with due respect,” Dubeck wrote.