Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office pushed back on House Republicans’ request for documents and testimony in its probe of former President Donald Trump, charging that complying with such a request would “interfere with law enforcement” and would represent an “unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty.”
In the letter, obtained by Spectrum News, Leslie Dubeck, the general counsel for Bragg’s office, dismissed the House Republicans’ request as an “unprecedented inquiry” with no legal basis.
Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bryan Steil, R-Wisc., the Chair of the House Administration Committee, and James Comer, R-Ky., the Chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to Bragg last week seeking information about the case and slamming the probe as an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”
The case revolves around hush money payments during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign to women who alleged sexual encounters with him. Bragg’s team appears to be looking at whether Trump or anyone committed crimes in New York state in arranging the payments, or in the way they accounted for them internally at the Trump Organization.
Dubeck charged that the Republicans’ letter “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,” she added.
The five-page response from Bragg's office provides a rare insight into what has remained a secret grand jury process, marking one of the first public acknowledgments that there is a sitting grand jury currently investigating Trump.
Dubeck went on to list the reasons why the Republicans’ request is irregular, including making the case that compliance would interfere with law enforcement efforts.
“The Letter seeks non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law,” she wrote, later adding: “These confidentiality provisions exist to protect the interests of the various participants in the criminal process-the defendant, the witnesses, and members of the grand jury-as well as the integrity of the grand jury proceeding itself.”
Like the Justice Department, she added, the Manhattan DA’s office “has a constitutional obligation to ‘protect the government's ability to prosecute fully and fairly,’ to ‘independently and impartially uphold the rule of law,’ to ‘protect witnesses and law enforcement,’ to ‘avoid flight by those implicated in our investigations,’ and to ‘prevent additional crimes.’”
She went on to charge that the requests constitute an “unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty” under the Tenth Amendment, which enumerates that powers not given to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution are reserved to each individual state — preventing Congressional inquires into state matters.
“Against this history, it is clear that Congress cannot have any legitimate legislative task relating to the oversight of local prosecutors enforcing state law,” she wrote. “To preserve the Constitution's federalist principles, the District Attorney is duty bound by his constitutional oath to New York's sovereign interest in the exercise of police powers reserved to the States under the Tenth Amendment.”
Dubeck also said that “Congress is not the appropriate branch to review pending criminal matters,” citing the Supreme Court’s 1957 ruling in Watkins v. U.S., which determined that the legislature’s investigative power is not absolute.
“If a grand jury brings charges against Donald Trump, the DA’s Office will have an obligation, as in every case, to provide a significant amount of discovery from its files to the defendant so that he may prepare a defense,” she wrote.
“The Letter's allegation that the DA's Office is pursuing a prosecution for political purposes is unfounded, and regardless, the proper forum for such a challenge is the Courts of New York, which are equipped to consider and review such objections,” Dubeck continued. “In addition, review by the U.S. Supreme Court would be available to the extent any criminal case raises federal issues. That is the mechanism afforded to every defendant in a criminal case. Congress has no role to play in that review, especially as to a pending state criminal proceeding.”
She also said that questions of federal funding are “an insufficient basis to justify these unconstitutional requests,” but said that the DA’s office is “preparing and will submit a letter describing its use of federal funds.”
Dubeck said that the DA’s office is willing to meet with committee staff “to better understand what information the DA's Office can provide that relates to a legitimate legislative interest and can be shared consistent with the District Attorney's constitutional obligations.”
“We trust that you appreciate the importance of our federal system, state law enforcement activities, and the critical need to maintain the integrity and independence of state criminal law enforcement from federal interference,” Dubeck concluded. “While the DA's Office will not allow a Congressional investigation to impede the exercise of New York's sovereign police power, this Office will always treat a fellow government entity with due respect.”
In a post on his Truth Social platform on Thursday, Trump called Bragg "a danger to our Country, and should be removed immediately," comparing him to other individuals on the state and federal level who are investigating the former president, including New York attorney general Letitia James, Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney Fani Willis, and Special Counsel Jack Smith.
"The District Attorney’s Office under Alvin Bragg is allowing Violent Crime to flourish in New York City, like never before, while he spends all of his time making his Office, which is in total chaos, trying to find anything on 'Trump,'" he wrote in a separate post. "He is doing the work of Anarchists and the Devil, who want our Country to fail."
On Thursday, Jordan expanded his probe into the handling of the Trump case by demanding testimony and documents from Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, two former Manhattan prosecutors who had been leading the Trump case before quitting last year in a clash over the direction of the probe.
“Last year, you resigned from the office over Bragg’s initial reluctance to move forward with charges, shaming Bragg in your resignation letter — which was subsequently leaked — into bringing charges,” Jordan, an Ohio Republican, wrote in the letter to Pomerantz late Wednesday. “It now appears that your efforts to shame Bragg have worked as he is reportedly resurrecting a so-called ‘zombie’ case against President Trump using a tenuous and untested legal theory.”
Requests for comment from Pomerantz and Dunne were not returned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.