Saturday, October 28, 2023

DA prosecuting Trump sues GOP’s Jim Jordan


Former President Donald Trump is facing 34 felony charges related to hush-money payments made to an adult-film actress, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is leading the prosecution. However, Bragg is now suing Republican legislator Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, for what he calls a “transparent campaign to intimidate and attack” him. Jordan has issued subpoenas as part of a probe into Bragg’s handling of the case, but Bragg argues that Congress lacks any valid legislative purpose to engage in such a campaign of harassment. The lawsuit asks a judge to invalidate the subpoenas and accuses Republicans of an “unlawful incursion” into Bragg’s jurisdiction.

Bragg’s office has dismissed claims that its prosecution of Trump is politically motivated, calling such claims “unfounded”. Trump and his allies, including Jordan, have continued to push the narrative that Bragg is a political operative who receives funding from liberal superdonor George Soros, a claim Soros has denied. Last week, Trump appeared in court for the first time, where he was arraigned on charges related to a hush-money payment made to adult-film performer Stormy Daniels through his lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. Daniels has said she had an affair with Trump before he was president.

While typically a misdemeanour under New York state law, falsifying business records rises to a felony if it is done with “intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof”. In a news conference following the arraignment, Bragg said Trump violated both state and federal election laws, and also mischaracterised the payments to Cohen as being for “tax purposes”. A statement of facts released alongside the indictment accused Trump of conducting “a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit [Trump’s] electoral prospects”.

Bragg is represented in the lawsuit against Jordan by Theodore Boutrous, a well-known First Amendment lawyer who has also represented Trump’s estranged niece, Mary Trump, in legal clashes with her famous uncle. The case has been assigned to US District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, a Trump appointee who previously served as a federal bankruptcy court judge.

The lawsuit came after the House Judiciary Committee announced plans to hold a hearing in Manhattan on crime in New York City and what it has called Bragg’s “pro-crime, anti-victim” policies. Bragg’s office, in response, pointed to statistics showing that violent crime in Manhattan has dropped since he took over the post in January 2022. In a statement, Bragg called the hearing “a political stunt” and said that if Jordan “truly cared about public safety”, he would focus on crime in cities in his home state of Ohio “instead of using taxpayer dollars to travel hundreds of miles out of his way”.

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