US House Republicans launch investigation of Manhattan DA in Trump probe
WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Republicans went on the offensive on Monday against a possible criminal indictment against Donald Trump, launching an investigation into the New York City prosecutor who is probing allegations that the former president paid hush money to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.
Three Republican committee chairmen sent a letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg seeking communications, documents and testimony from him related to his investigation of a $130,000 payment by Trump's former lawyer to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to buy her silence over a 2006 sexual encounter she said she had with Trump.
Trump has denied any such relationship and any wrongdoing.
His fellow Republicans including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have accused Bragg, a Democrat, of abuse of power and using his office to pursue a political agenda. McCarthy had also said he would direct House committees to determine whether federal funds have been used in the district attorney's probe.
"You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former president of the United States," the Republican chairmen said in the letter to Bragg.
"This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis - any basis - on which to bring charges," they added.
The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil.
Democrats criticized the Republican action, saying a local prosecutor in Manhattan falls outside the jurisdiction of Congress.
"Defending Trump is not a legitimate legislative purpose for Congress to investigate a state district attorney," Democratic Representative Daniel Goldman wrote on Twitter.
"Congress has no jurisdiction to investigate the Manhattan DA, which receives no federal funding nor has any other federal nexus," added Goldman, who was lead counsel in a 2019 House impeachment of Trump.
Trump said on Saturday that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and called for protests.
Politico reported that an indictment could come as soon as Monday.
No U.S. president, while in office or afterward, has faced criminal charges. Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has said he would continue campaigning even if charged with a crime.
Trump was impeached twice during his presidency, once in 2019 over his conduct regarding Ukraine and again in 2021 over the attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. He was acquitted by the Senate both times.
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