DA Bragg sues Jim Jordan over Trump case interference
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks at a press conference in New York on April 4, 2023. | John Minchillo/AP

NEW YORK— Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who indicted Trump on 34 felony counts, has sued a top Trump devotee, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, for his attempts to sabotage the DA’s probe by threatening to subpoena all evidence and work papers. Bragg, who some are calling the “Anti-Mueller” because of his sharp departure from the actions of prior investigators who let GOP saboteurs of their probes off the hook, is showing how Jordan’s demands would nullify the prosecution of Trump.

Stripped of legalese, Bragg says Jordan’s overbearing and illegal threats could not just deliberately screw up the investigation but that they could even deprive Trump of a fair trial.

The subpoena threats are in character for Jordan. The lawmaker gained notoriety as a top and histrionic Trump defender during the two impeachments in the last Congress, without offering any evidence to counter congressional prosecutors in either case.

Jordan, whose backing comes from right-wing rich corporate interests, just kept screaming “Witch hunt! Witch hunt! Witch hunt!” echoing his idol, Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., deliberately named Jordan, a founder of the radical right Freedom Caucus and an abuser of boys under his care when he was a wrestling coach, to the top Judiciary seat before the impeachments began.

The then-Democratic-run House impeached Trump both times, but the evenly split Senate couldn’t muster the 67 votes needed to convict him of “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors,” to use the U.S. Constitution’s language.

Then, Jordan defied committee subpoenas to testify about his role and contacts with Trump during the Jan. 6, 2021, Trumpite U.S. Capitol invasion, insurrection, and coup d’etat try. This time, now running the Judiciary panel, Jordan subpoenaed all the work products of the Manhattan DA’s office leading up to the 34-count indictment.

Jordan also wants former Assistant DA Mark Pomerantz to testify. Pomerantz quit before the indictments and wrote a book alleging Bragg dragged his feet against Trump. Last year, after Pomerantz resigned, Bragg picked up the case against Trump’s company and its officers and won a $1.6 million judgment, the maximum possible, for tax fraud.

Jordan’s attack on Bragg’s probe is “an unprecedentedly brazen and unconstitutional attack by members of Congress on an ongoing New York State criminal prosecution and investigation of” Trump, Bragg wrote in his 50-page suit against Jordan and the panel’s Republican majority, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Jordan “began a transparent campaign to intimidate and attack District Attorney Bragg, making demands for confidential documents and testimony from the district attorney himself as well as his current and former employees and officials,” notably former Assistant DA Mark Pomerantz, Bragg’s suit says.

Seeks an injunction against Jordan

Bragg wants federal judges in Manhattan to issue a temporary order and a permanent injunction against Jordan and the committee, and pay the DA’s attorneys’ costs, too. “Jordan’s demands, including his subpoena to Pomerantz, seek highly sensitive and confidential local prosecutorial information that belongs to the office of the District Attorney and the people of New York.”

DA Bragg’s 34 felony counts against Trump involve his payoffs through lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen, to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, to get both women to shut up about the affairs he had with them so the news would not damage his 2016 campaign for the presidency. The two payoffs totaled $285,000, though Cohen—who later pled guilty and went to jail for his go-between role–received more than $425,000.

Trump charged the payoffs as “legal fees” on his company’s books and the checks, the receipts, and the false entries in those ledgers, in furtherance of the cover-up—another crime—from the 34 counts in Bragg’s indictment. The DA says Jordan’s subpoenas, if enforced, could prejudice the whole case.

Bragg’s case against Trump, in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, is one of at least four legal tangles the former White House denizen faces. The others are much more serious than covering up payoffs to women he had affairs with.

In Atlanta, Fulton County DA Fani Willis and her team are gathering evidence, including a grand jury report, on how Trump and his staffers literally tried to steal Georgia’s electoral votes in the 2020 balloting by pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to “find” 11,380 popular votes to give Trump a one-vote win there.

And U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith, a former federal prosecutor, is moving ever higher among the underlings involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, Trumpite insurrection-invasion-coup try. He’s also closing in on his probe of Trump’s illegal removal of top-secret classified documents, including documents about nuclear weapons of both the U.S. and its allies, to his Mar-a-Lago mansion, with no security safeguards, either.

In defending his investigation against Jordan’s monkey-wrench try, Bragg does not mention the financial and capitalist forces behind either Trump or his Republican followers, with Jordan leading those troops. Instead, he sticks to questions of sovereignty and protecting an investigation’s integrity.

“Basic principles of federalism and common sense, as well as binding Supreme Court precedent, forbid Congress from demanding” the evidence he holds, Bragg wrote. “Congress has no power to supervise state criminal prosecutions. Nor does Congress have the power to serve subpoenas ‘for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to punish those investigated,’” he added, citing a 2020 Supreme Court ruling against Trump.

“Yet that is precisely what Jordan is trying to do.” Not only does Jordan want Bragg to come and “explain himself” to Congress, but threatens to hold Bragg “to account” if he doesn’t, without being specific. In past probes, such a threat has often led to a contempt of Congress vote and a recommendation to the U.S. Justice Department to arrest and prosecute the alleged malefactor(s).

Bragg also aimed at Jordan’s demand that Pomerantz testify. Pomerantz becomes a defendant in Bragg’s suit, too, to prevent a peremptory committee subpoena demand for him, too. “Subpoenaing a former line prosecutor to talk about an ongoing criminal prosecution and investigation is no less of an affront to state sovereignty than subpoenaing the District Attorney himself,” Bragg wrote.

“Jordan claims he is seeking to conduct ‘oversight.’ But he has no power under the Constitution to oversee state and local criminal matters. By definition, then, he has no legitimate legislative purpose for issuing this subpoena.”

Jordan responded, predictably, with a tweet proclaiming Trump’s innocence. That’s despite overwhelming evidence of Trump’s crimes—notably his orders and encouragement of the Jan. 6, 2021, Trumpite invasion, insurrection, and coup d’etat try at the U.S. Capitol.

“First, they indict a president for no crime,” tweeted Jordan, who has skeletons in his closet from turning a blind eye to sexual abuse of athletes while a wrestling coach at Ohio State University. “Then, they sue to block congressional oversight when we ask questions about the federal funds they say they used to do it.” Jordan did not offer any proof of that assertion.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.