Top House Republicans are considering legislation that would protect current and former presidents from “politically motivated prosecutions” in response to the investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg into former President Donald Trump. This move by the Republicans is the latest in a back-and-forth with Bragg, who has refused to comply with their request for records related to his probe. Republicans have attempted to paint Bragg’s actions as an abuse of prosecutorial authority, while Bragg’s office has claimed that their inquiry is proper and has standing.
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The letter from Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), and House Administration Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) responds point by point to Bragg’s last correspondence and reinforces their case for congressional oversight. However, House Oversight Democrats have criticized the lawmakers, saying that they “believe former President Trump is above the law,” according to a spokesperson.
The letter states:
“Because the federal government has a compelling interest in protecting the physical safety of former or current Presidents, any decision to prosecute … raises difficult questions concerning how to vindicate that interest in the context of a state or local criminal justice system,” the letter states.
“For these reasons and others, we believe that we now must consider whether Congress should take legislative action to protect former and/or current Presidents from politically motivated prosecutions by state and local officials, and if so, how those protections should be structured.”
“Due to your own actions, you are now in possession of information critical to this inquiry.”
If Bragg rejects the records request again, the three lawmakers will have to decide whether to subpoena a local prosecutor, which is an uncharted territory. The lawmakers have given Bragg until March 31 to comply.
The proposed legislation by the Republicans seeks to protect presidents from politically motivated prosecutions, but it is unclear how this legislation would work in practice. The U.S. Constitution already provides some immunity to presidents while they are in office, but it is unclear whether this protection extends beyond their time in office. Additionally, the Constitution does not protect presidents from investigations or prosecutions for crimes committed before or after their time in office.