Republican lawmakers on Monday assailed the New York Democratic prosecutor investigating former President Donald Trump in connection with his alleged $130,000 hush money payment to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.
Three committee chairmen in the House of Representatives accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of prosecutorial misconduct and demanded that he provide them information and documents related to his investigation of Trump.
The former president said over the weekend that he expects to be arrested in the case on Tuesday, although the prosecutor has made no public announcement indicating whether Trump would be indicted or when. Trump called for protests if he is indicted, and New York officials have been coordinating with federal security agencies to handle any unrest near the courthouse in New York.
Trump would be the first former U.S. president ever charged with a criminal offense.
He also faces wide-ranging investigations by a Justice Department special counsel and a state prosecutor in the southern state of Georgia for his role in trying to upend his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden to stay in power.
Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is also probing Trump’s role in fomenting the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s victory and how Trump kept classified documents at his Florida estate after leaving office, rather than turning them over to the National Archives as he was required by law to do.
The New York probe stems from the $130,000 paid to adult star Stormy Daniels by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to guarantee her silence just ahead of the 2016 election about the one-night sexual encounter she claims to have had with Trump, an allegation he has long denied. Cohen has said that Trump approved the payment and then reimbursed him, saying it was for legal expenses.
"You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former president of the United States," the Republican committee chairmen said in their letter to Bragg.
"This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis — any basis — on which to bring charges," they added.
The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil.
Democrats rebuffed the criticism of the Trump investigation, with Representative Daniel Goldman saying on Twitter, "Defending Trump is not a legitimate legislative purpose for Congress to investigate a state district attorney."
"Congress has no jurisdiction to investigate the Manhattan DA, which receives no federal funding nor has any other federal nexus," said Goldman, who was lead counsel in a 2019 House impeachment of Trump.
Trump announced his intention to seek the 2024 Republican presidential nomination months ago and says he would keep campaigning even if he is charged with a criminal offense. Numerous national polls show him as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, although several other Republicans have either announced their own candidacies or said they are seriously considering a race against Trump.
Trump was impeached twice during his presidency, once in 2019 over his conduct demanding Ukraine investigate Biden, and again in 2021 over the attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. He was acquitted by the Senate both times.