House Republicans are demanding testimony from the Manhattan district attorney and members of his office who may soon be prosecuting former President Donald Trump over a hush-money payment made days before the 2016 presidential election.
GOP officials tell POLITICO that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is listening to members of his caucus who want District Attorney Alvin Bragg dragged in for sworn testimony about his pending decision to charge the former president. McCarthy, the official said, is “fully supportive and pushing folks to be aggressive here.”
This morning, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Oh.) sent a letter to Bragg demanding his testimony, according to Fox News. Jordan warned that Bragg’s investigation of Trump “will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the court of the 2024 presidential election.”
“In light of the serious consequences of your actions, we expect that you will testify about what plainly appears to be a politically motivated prosecutorial decision,” Jordan wrote.
Republicans have highlighted discrepancies in the way Bragg has handled a possible prosecution of Trump versus his handling of other cases since taking office last year. Under his jurisdiction, 52 percent of all felony charges have been reduced to misdemeanors while the case involving President Trump has been upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Legal watchers say any case against Trump, which would be the first criminal prosecution of a United States President, is no slam dunk. The prosecution’s argument will hinge on an untested blend of violations mixing business transactions with campaign finance law. A novel argument, combined with the high-profile nature of the case, is likely to be carefully considered by a judge.
A grand jury convened in the case will hear today from Robert Costello, a past legal advisor to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, in a move by the president’s team to rebut Cohen’s testimony against him. Cohen is the prosecution’s star witness and is expected to tell the jury that President Trump directed him to make a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in an effort to keep their affair from being publicized in the run-up to his election against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The case hinges on whether Trump then falsified business documents to disguise the payment rather than report it as a campaign expense.