Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, has refused to provide documentation on the investigation of Donald Trump over the Stormy Daniels case that the chairmen of several House committees have requested. In a letter sent to Congress, Manhattan D.A. and General Counsel Leslie Dubeck, accused Republican lawmakers of meddling with "an unprecedented investigation into a pending local prosecution" by demanding information that has not yet been made public and whose disclosure is deemed a felony.
The missive is highly critical of the Conservatives' request, who also subpoenaed Bragg to testify. The prosecutor, using Dubeck as a spokesperson, has emphasized that Congress has no power to meddle in local justice matters, but that this is the province of the courts and states, "in accordance with the Tenth Amendment."
Congress is not the appropriate branch to review pending criminal matters. As the Supreme Court noted in Watkins, "Congress [is not] a law enforcement or trial agency. These are functions of the executive and judicial departments of government." 354 U.S. at 187. "The power of Congress to investigate must not be confused with any of the powers of law enforcement; those powers are assigned under our Constitution to the Executive and the Judiciary."
Criticism of 'false expectation' of Trump's arrest
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, it all stems from Donald Trump's statements last Saturday denouncing that he would be arrested on Tuesday by Bragg, and calling on his supporters to "take back America." " The 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," it reads.
On this matter, the Prosecutor's Office assures that, in the event that the GOP representatives consider that the accusation against the former president has "political purposes" and is "unfounded," they should file a complaint "in the New York courts" or go to the Supreme Court.
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. 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. 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.
Disclosure of confidential information, "a serious crime."
In the brief, Dubeck reminds Republicans that "In New York, the District Attorney is a constitutional officer charged with 'the responsibility to conduct all prosecutions for crimes and offenses cognizable by the courts of the county in which he serves.' These are quintessential police powers belonging to the State, and your letter treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states." It further suggests that the congressional investigation is being "conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to 'punish' those being investigated," and is therefore "indefensible."
The prosecution stresses that the conservators requested "non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law. Prosecutor's disclosure of grand jury evidence is a felony unless 'in the proper discharge of his official duties or upon written order of the court.'" It further adds that "witness statements to the District Attorney's Office protected by the public interest privilege, shielding materials compiled for law enforcement purposes from public disclosure where disclosure would interfere with law enforcement investigations or disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation."
In addition, Bragg stated that, "consistent with these constitutional obligations, the Office of the Attorney General is aware of the DOJ's 'customary' policy of not providing Congress with non-public information about investigations."
GOP responds: "Make Manhattan safe again."
From their Twitter account, GOP members of the Judiciary Committee responded to this refusal by reminding Bragg of the rise in crime in his district and calling for more involvement to "make Manhattan safe again."
Alvin Bragg should focus on prosecuting actual criminals in New York City rather than harassing a political opponent in another state.
Make Manhattan Safe Again!
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) March 23, 2023
Daniels delivers recordings "that will hurt
Although there was speculation that the grand jury would convene on Thursday, the session was ultimately cancelled and postponed to next week. Prosecutors threatened to present a new key witness, but no statement was taken from anyone throughout the day.
In addition, former porn actress Stormy Daniels, who accuses Trump of paying her $130,000 for her silence about an alleged affair between the two, announced on Twitter that she has made available to her lawyer recordings that in her own words say, "they're gonna hurt!" and could prove decisive in the case.
I'm sure I will. I've been handing over phone records to my attorney today (they're gonna hurt!) and planning spring break activities with my kid. It was a wonderful day 🙂
— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) March 23, 2023