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Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Bragg Sues Jim Jordan in Move to Block Interference in Trump Case

Bragg Sues Jim Jordan in Move to Block Interference in Trump Case

“Mr. Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, had subpoenaed a former prosecutor who worked on the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into former President Donald J. Trump.

Alvin Bragg speaking at a podium.
Mr. Bragg’s lawsuit is an escalation in the confrontation between his office and the House Judiciary Committee, which Jim Jordan chairs.Dave Sanders for The New York Times

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The Manhattan district attorney on Tuesday sued Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio in an extraordinary step intended to keep congressional Republicans from interfering in the office’s criminal case against former President Donald J. Trump.

The 50-page suit, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, accuses Mr. Jordan of a “brazen and unconstitutional attack” on the prosecution of Mr. Trump and a “transparent campaign to intimidate and attack” the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg. Mr. Bragg last week unveiled 34 felony charges against Mr. Trump that stem from the former president’s attempts to cover up a potential sex scandal during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.

Lawyers for Mr. Bragg are seeking to bar Mr. Jordan and his congressional allies from enforcing a subpoena sent to Mark F. Pomerantz, who was once a leader of the district attorney’s Trump investigation and who later wrote a book about that experience. Mr. Pomerantz resigned early last year after Mr. Bragg, just weeks into his first term in office, decided not to seek an indictment of Trump at that time.

Mr. Bragg’s lawyers, including Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. of the law firm Gibson Dunn and Leslie B. Dubeck, the general counsel in the district attorney’s office, also intend to prevent any other such subpoenas, the lawsuit says. Mr. Jordan has left open the possibility of subpoenaing Mr. Bragg.

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“Rather than allowing the criminal process to proceed in the ordinary course, Chairman Jordan and the committee are participating in a campaign of intimidation, retaliation and obstruction,” the suit said, adding that the district attorney’s office had received more than 1,000 calls and emails from Mr. Trump’s supporters — many of them “threatening and racially charged” — since the former president predicted his own arrest last month.

Mr. Jordan responded in a statement on Twitter.

“First, they indict a president for no crime,” he wrote. “Then, they sue to block congressional oversight when we ask questions about the federal funds they say they used to do it.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the judge in the case, Mary Kay Vyskocil, declined to issue a temporary restraining order that had been proposed by Mr. Bragg’s lawyers, which would have prohibited any enforcement of the subpoena sent to Mr. Pomerantz. Instead, she ordered that Mr. Jordan’s lawyers respond by April 17 and scheduled a hearing in the case for April 19, the day that Mr. Jordan’s committee had set for Mr. Pomerantz’s deposition.

Last month, Mr. Jordan, in his role as the House Judiciary Committee chairman, sent letters, with two Republican colleagues, that demanded the district attorney’s office provide communications, documents and testimony about Mr. Bragg’s investigation of Mr. Trump. In the letters, the Republican congressmen defended their right to conduct oversight of the case.

And after Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors unveiled the charges against Mr. Trump last week, Mr. Jordan issued the subpoena to Mr. Pomerantz, seeking to compel a closed-door deposition.

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In response to the letters’ focus on federal funds, the district attorney’s office said that it had spent about $5,000 worth of federal money on investigations into Mr. Trump and his company between October 2019 and August 2021, most of it on litigation related to a court battle with Mr. Trump over access to his tax returns.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Bragg said that the subpoena to Mr. Pomerantz was “an unconstitutional attempt to undermine an ongoing New York felony criminal prosecution and investigation.” Mr. Boutrous, in his own statement, said that the suit aimed “to protect local law enforcement and state court criminal proceedings in this country against impermissible intrusions from the federal government.”

Mr. Pomerantz is also named as a defendant in the suit, though that appears to be a formality. By naming him, Mr. Bragg’s lawyers are seeking to block Mr. Pomerantz from testifying if he was legally compelled to do so. Mr. Pomerantz has shown no indication that he is willing to testify voluntarily. He declined to comment on Tuesday.

Representative Jim Jordan sitting behind a podium resting his chin on his hand.
Mr. Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has accused Mr. Bragg of prosecuting Mr. Trump for political reasons.Kenny Holston/The New York Times

In his book, published earlier this year, Mr. Pomerantz described his view of Mr. Trump’s actions as plainly criminal, as well as his frustrations with Mr. Bragg when he took office in 2022 and did not charge Mr. Trump. That decision led Mr. Pomerantz and another of the investigation’s leaders, Carey Dunne, to resign.

Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne — holdovers from the prior district attorney’s administration — were primarily focused on whether Mr. Trump had fraudulently inflated the value of his assets, but Mr. Bragg was not confident in their case.

After they left, he and his aides returned to the hush-money payment made during the final days of the 2016 campaign to a porn star, Stormy Daniels — conduct that Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne had investigated but decided not to place at the center of a criminal case against the former president.

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Mr. Bragg impaneled a grand jury to hear evidence about Mr. Trump’s role in the hush money in January. The jurors voted to indict Mr. Trump late last month.

Last month, Mr. Trump announced on his social media website, Truth Social, that he was going to be arrested three days later. The claim was false — no indictment had been voted on at the time — but it set in motion extensive defenses of Mr. Trump by allies in the Republican-led Congress, who vowed to investigate the district attorney. Along with the letters to Mr. Bragg’s office, Mr. Jordan and two other Republican committee chairmen sent letters to Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne demanding documents and testimony related to the case.

Mr. Jordan’s committee on Monday announced its plans for the “field hearing” in New York City on April 17. It is apparently intended to suggest that Mr. Bragg has focused on the prosecution of Mr. Trump rather than Manhattan’s crime rate.

On Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office characterized the hearing as a “political stunt” and pointed toward Police Department data that shows murders, shootings and burglaries are down in Manhattan this year.

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.“

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