'Crossed the line': Legal experts chastise GOP lawmakers for interfering in Trump's criminal probe
Legal experts are criticizing Republican leaders and lawmakers' inappropriate interference in former President Donald Trump's criminal investigations.
HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery lays out a brief overview of Republicans' critical reactions toward Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in wake of his office's move to indict the former president.
"House Republicans have been complaining and urging protests ever since the news broke that former President Donald Trump was being criminally indicted," Bendery wrote.
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"A trio of powerful GOP committee chairmen has taken things a step further, using their positions to demand that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg give them documents and communications related to his investigation, which on Tuesday was revealed to center on a 34-count felony indictment of the former president," she wrote.
Bendery went on to pose a question that multiple legal experts have weighed in to answer.
"With their threats of subpoenas and demands for details on how the district attorney’s office uses federal funds, have these GOP committee chairmen crossed that line?" she asked.
Norm Eisen, who serves as chair for the nonprofit public policy organization States United Democracy Center shared his perspective.
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“The notion of having a federal prosecutor come in and talk about an open case is anathema. It’s constitutionally prohibited under principles of separation of powers,” said Eisen. “Those concerns are even more strongly implicated when it’s a state prosecutor who is not within the jurisdiction. The House Judiciary Committee has oversight responsibility for Bill Barr. They have none for Alvin Bragg!”
Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program at New York University's School of Law, referenced the letter co-authored by Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Comer (R-Ky.), and Bryan Steil (R-Wisc.) as an example of how Republican lawmakers have crossed the line.
“I think there is a strong argument here that these letters have already crossed the line,” said Weiser. “The line you’re looking at, it’s a line between legitimate political discourse and inappropriate political interference. ... They can complain as much as they’d like. But actually trying to obtain the records, confidential information, about a pending criminal case would be inappropriate for any criminal actor and certainly a congressional committee.”
“Even if they haven’t taken the step of using those powers,” she added, “the threat to use those powers inappropriately itself is inappropriate interference.”
John Greabe also expressed concern about how Republican lawmakers have crossed the line.
“The demands for information raise serious separation-of-powers and federalism concerns,” said Greabe. “Moreover, to the extent that the GOP chairs are seeking to engage in law-enforcement conduct against what they characterize as a rogue state prosecutor, they are arguably seeking to exercise executive and not legislative power.”
The latest remarks from legal experts come as Trump faces mounting legal woes with the progression of the case in Manhattan.
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