Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg is suing Rep. Jim Jordan in relation to Trump case
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
It was just last week that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg unveiled criminal charges against former President Donald Trump. And now Bragg is suing the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan, for what he says are Jordan's attempts to interfere in the Trump prosecution.
NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas joins us now with the latest. And, Ryan, what can you tell us about this lawsuit?
RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Well, Bragg filed this lawsuit in federal court in New York. And in the filing, Bragg says he's taking this step in response to what he calls a, quote, "brazen and unconstitutional attack by members of Congress on an active New York state prosecution." He says that Jordan, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has launched a campaign to try to intimidate and attack Bragg, that Jordan is demanding confidential documents and testimony from Bragg as well as current and former employees of the district attorney. And Bragg says that Jordan is seeking highly sensitive, confidential information that belongs to local prosecutors. And he says basic principles of federalism and common sense, not to mention Supreme Court precedent, bar Congress from demanding this sort of information.
SUMMERS: OK. So what exactly is Bragg asking the court to do here?
LUCAS: Well, he's asking for a couple of things. He wants the court to invalidate a subpoena that Jordan has issued to a man by the name of Mark Pomerantz. Pomerantz worked as a prosecutor in Bragg's office on Trump issues, but he left late last year after having a difference of opinion on how to proceed with these cases. Pomerantz also wrote a book that was critical of some of the decisions that were made in the DA's office. Bragg says the subpoena for Pomerantz's deposition is invalid and unconstitutional. And Bragg also wants, more broadly, the court to prevent any future subpoena on Bragg or any other current or former employees of the district attorney.
SUMMERS: At this point, has there been any response from Congressman Jim Jordan?
LUCAS: Jordan has responded. He put out a brief statement on Twitter. I'll quote the statement for you. He says, quote, "first, they indict a president for no crime. Then they sue to block congressional oversight when we ask questions about the federal funds they say they used to do it." That's all Jordan said so far.
SUMMERS: OK. You mentioned Bragg's accusation that Jordan has tried to intimidate his office. So just help me understand, how did this all escalate to this point?
LUCAS: Well, there's been a lot of back and forth between Jordan and Bragg over the past few weeks. Before Trump was even indicted in New York - so back in mid- to late March - Jordan and two other Republican House committee chairmen sent Bragg a letter demanding communications and documents and testimony related to the investigation into Trump. They called Bragg's investigation politically motivated. They said that it was an abuse of power. And this, of course, was all before Trump had even been indicted. They didn't know whether he would ultimately be indicted.
Bragg replied back then with a letter of his own. He defended his office's work. He said everything that they've done has been done consistent with the letter of the law. And he also said that Congress, look, doesn't have oversight of state prosecutors. This isn't something for them to deal with. Bragg also said that the information that Jordan and these others were seeking is privileged. It's confidential, and this is about a pending and ongoing criminal investigation.
SUMMERS: And then we get to last week, when Bragg's office took the unprecedented step of charging Trump, a former president, of course.
LUCAS: Of course. Yeah, that's right - 34 felony charges in all for falsifying business records. That, of course, all ties back into hush money payments that were made during the 2016 campaign to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Now, two days after Trump was arraigned in state court in Manhattan, Jordan sent a subpoena to Pomerantz, the former prosecutor in Bragg's office, for a deposition. And now here we have Bragg firing back with this lawsuit here.
SUMMERS: Ryan, where does this all go from here?
LUCAS: Well, this lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan. And the court to take this up - and we'll see how it moves forward. But Jordan already has a move planned on his end. This one is very much not in the courts. His committee has announced that it plans to hold a field hearing in New York City next week featuring people they're calling victims of Bragg's policies. This is something that a spokesperson for Bragg's office called a political stunt.
SUMMERS: NPR's Ryan Lucas. Thank you.
LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.