Some Republican senators have dismissed top GOP House leaders’ defense of former President Donald Trump against an “unprecedented abuse of authority” by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg regarding the potential indictment of the former president.
On Monday, Oversight Committee chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Administration Committee chairman Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) requested Bragg sit for a transcribed interview and demanded documents pertaining to his communication if any with the President Joe Biden’s Justice Department.
“Was the Manhattan DA’s office in communication with DOJ about their investigation of President Trump?” Jordan asked. “Was the Manhattan DA’s office using federal funds to investigate President Trump?”
“I think we should hear Alvin Bragg testify before Congress, under oath, about his vision and the fact that this is wildly political and the fact that this was not pursued by federal courts and the fact that the Department of Justice passed on this,” House Republican conference chairwoman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) told Breitbart News on Monday.
“We gave him until Thursday to come forward,” Steil said, speaking with Breitbart News. “We look forward to his response.”
Among the senators who shrugged off defending Trump from the potential “unprecedented abuse of authority” were Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and John Thune (R-SD). Speaking with Punchbowl News, each senator had a varying degree of indifference to calls for transparency from House leadership.
Cornyn suggested the leadership should mostly ignore Bragg’s potential indictment and focus on legislative priorities. “I would hope they would stick to the agenda they ran on when they got elected to the majority,” Cornyn suggested.
Capito appeared to shrug off altogether the House’s attempted oversight: “The House is gonna do what the House is gonna do.”
Tillis warned the House leaders not to interject themselves into the so-called “legal process” and tried to direct his comments toward the origins of the potential case against Trump.
“You’ve got to fall short of getting involved in the legal process,” he said. “I think there is a legitimate question asked of, ‘Why are we here?’”
Thune said he did not want to get involved with the House’s effort to defend the former president. “I try to stay out of talking about the House,” he said.
The GOP senators’ willingness to shrug off the House’s demand for transparency comes as legal scholars believe Bragg’s potential case against Trump is shaky.
“The case is legally pathetic,” Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, said. “Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump over his payment of ‘hush money’ to former stripper Stormy Daniels,” he wrote in the Hill.
“It is extremely difficult to show that paying money to cover up an embarrassing affair was done for election purposes as opposed to an array of obvious other reasons, from protecting a celebrity’s reputation to preserving a marriage,” he said.
Andrew McCarthy, former chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, echoed Turley’s reasoning and explained New York state law:
Bragg is expected to charge Trump with the felony. This is significant not merely in terms of a potential sentence – up to four years’ imprisonment for the felony, versus less than a year for the misdemeanor. It may matter a great deal in terms of whether the case is time-barred. In New York criminal law, the statute of limitations for most non-violent felonies (including the one applicable to falsifying business records) is five years; for misdemeanors, it is just two years.
“If Bragg cannot prove a felony – i.e., if he fails to establish not only that (a) Trump falsified records but also that (b) he knew he had committed some second crime and intentionally sought to conceal it by falsifying the records–” McCarthy wrote in a Fox News column, “– the case should be dismissed as time-barred.”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.