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New York DA investigating Trump calls GOP requests 'unprecedented' and 'unlawful'

District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks at a press conference on Sept. 8, 2022.
Alex Kent
/
AFP via Getty Images
District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks at a press conference on Sept. 8, 2022.

Updated March 23, 2023 at 3:09 PM ET

The New York District Attorney's office investigating former President Donald Trump called Republican requests for its documents and testimony "an unprecedent inquiry into a pending local prosecution."

In a letter to three Republican House committee chairs, a lawyer in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr., said the congressional request suggested their inquiry is designed to "punish" the office for its investigation, and "is therefore indefensible."

"The DA's Office will not allow a Congressional investigation to impede the exercise of New York's sovereign police power," General Counsel for the District Attorney of New York County Leslie Dubeck wrote Thursday.

Earlier this week, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer, R-Ky., and House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil, R-Wisc., sent Bragg a letter demanding documents, communications and testimony related to his investigation of the former president.

Bragg's office is investigating Trump over a $130,000 payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels, made just before the 2016 election in order to quiet her allegations of an affair between the two. Trump has denied the affair. A New York grand jury is investigating whether Trump falsified his records of the hush money payment in order to cover up a violation of campaign finance laws.

Over the weekend, the former president took to social media to claim he would be arrested on Tuesday, and urged his supporters to protest. The party has rallied around Trump in the days since, decrying the inquiry as political retaliation. But there has been no official announcement of a criminal indictment.

In their letter, the three committee chairs called a possible indictment "an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority" and said it was based on "a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue."

They argued that if Bragg does indict Trump, Bragg's actions "will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election."

In her response Thursday, Dubeck noted that the congressional request "only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry."

"The Letter's requests are an unlawful incursion into New York's sovereignty," she said.

Jordan was asked Thursday if he would consider compelling Bragg to appear with a subpoena. He told reporters "we're looking at all options."

NPR's Ilya Marritz contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Lexie Schapitl is a production assistant with NPR's Washington Desk, where she produces radio pieces and digital content. She also reports from the field and assists with production of the NPR Politics Podcast.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.