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In win for MAGA Republicans, judge lets House Judiciary Committee start inquiry into Trump’s Manhattan prosecution

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, left, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, right.Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, left, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, right.

File photos/AP

  • A federal judge in Manhattan handed Trump’s NY prosecutors their first legal setback Wednesday.
  • DA Alvin Bragg had sought to quash the first subpoena in a GOP inquiry into the hush-money prosecution.
  • Ex-prosecutor Mark Pomerantz must now testify before the House Judiciary Committee as early as Thursday. 

In a blow to Donald Trump’s Manhattan prosecutors, a federal judge on Wednesday green-lit the first subpoena in a House Republican inquiry into the hush-money case.

Lawyers for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had hoped the judge would quash the subpoena, which now requires former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz to testify before the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee as early as Thursday morning.

Bragg’s side failed to show that requiring Pomerantz to testify would cause irreparable harm or that there was no valid purpose to the committee’s subpoena, wrote US District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, who is presiding over Bragg’s April 11 lawsuit fighting the committee’s inquiry.

Committee chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had a valid oversight and legislative purpose in issuing the subpoena, the judge found.

The GOP-led Congressional inquiry will explore the use of $5,000 in forfeited federal funds that the DA concedes was used in investigating Trump before Bragg took office, committee lawyers had argued at a court hearing earlier Wednesday.

The inquiry will also explore the need for legislation to protect former presidents from “political prosecution,” judiciary committee attorney Matthew B. Berry had argued.

“It is not the role of the federal judiciary to dictate what legislation Congress may consider,” in finding that there is a valid legislative purpose for the judiciary committee’s inquiry, the judge wrote in Wednesday’s 25-page decision.

The judge shot down Bragg’s claim that Pomerantz’s testimony is protected by “investigatory privilege,” which bars members of law enforcement from being forced to divulge details of ongoing criminal cases.

Twice during Wednesday’s hearing, the judge held aloft a copy of Pomerantz’s book, “People v. Donald Trump,” to punctuate her point — that while Pomerantz may have once enjoyed that privilege, that is no longer the case. 

“How has that not been waived in this book?” she demanded, holding Pomerantz’s book in the air from her seat at the bench, as the author himself sat in her courtroom’s audience.

“It’s hard to avoid it, isn’t it?” the judge said at another point, again picking up the book and holding it up.

Despite her “tremendous respect” for Pomerantz, he is now a private citizen, Vyskocil added. “The case law is abundantly clear that private citizens must comply with subpoenas,” she said.

Vyskocil agreed that the Congressional “speech or debate” clause may ultimately make the committee immune from Bragg’s lawsuit, which seeks to block the inquiry.

Lawyers for both sides — the judiciary committee and Bragg’s office — are accusing each other of abusing their power for political gain. 

The judiciary committee’s pro-Trump chairman, Jim Jordan of Ohio, has decried Democrat Bragg’s “politically motivated prosecutorial decision” to pursue a case against Trump.

Bragg’s lawyers, in turn, have called the GOP inquiry “an unprecedently brazen and unconstitutional attack” that’s bent on “hauling Mr. Pomerantz to Washington for a retaliatory political circus,” as their April 11 lawsuit against the Judiciary Committee states.

“I’m talking about the subpoena” for Pomerantz, the judge said at one point. “Not all the political rhetoric that’s flying back and forth.”

At another point, the judge stated bluntly, “There’s politics going on on both sides, here. Let’s be frank about it.”

Attorneys for the judiciary committee did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment on the decision; a spokeswoman for Bragg said an appeal will be filed in hopes of delaying Thursday’s testimony.

“We respectfully disagree with the District Court’s decision and are seeking a stay pending appeal,” the spokesperson said.

Read the original article on Business Insider