Apr 18, 2023

House Republicans Hold NYC Hearing Targeting DA Bringing Criminal Charges Against Trump Transcript

House Republicans Hold NYC Hearing Targeting DA Bringing Criminal Charges Against Trump Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsAlvin BraggHouse Republicans Hold NYC Hearing Targeting DA Bringing Criminal Charges Against Trump Transcript

The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee headed to New York for a hearing honing in on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee headed to New York City today for a hearing honing in on Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg. He’s the prosecutor who brought criminal charges against former President Donald Trump earlier this month. The hearing was billed as a look at Bragg’s record on prosecuting crime in the city, but it quickly turned into a fiery political back and forth between protestors, witnesses and members of Congress. Lisa Desjardins.

Lisa Desjardins (00:28):

In the Big Apple today, a drama cutting to the heart of divide.

Chip Roy (00:32):

Do you feel safe in New York City right now?

Adriano Espaillat (00:34):

The common denominator in most homicides across the country is a gun.

Lisa Desjardins (00:39):

The House Judiciary Committee holding a field hearing on crime in New York City. Testimony was gripping and heartfelt.

Jose Alba (00:46):

I am not working because I’m terrified for my life, that someone in the gang will come after me for revenge.

Madeline Brame (00:51):

We care about being able to let our child go out to the park and play without getting shot in the stroller.

Lisa Desjardins (01:00):

But Democrats immediately called out the event as a deceptive stunt aimed to undermine the prosecution of Donald Trump by New York City.

David Cicilline (01:08):

This hearing was called for a purpose, to intimidate a district attorney for doing his job and upholding the rule of law.

Adam Schiff (01:16):

It is the GOP leadership in Congress, doing what it has done best for the last six years, and that is to act as the Criminal Defense Council for Donald J. Trump.

Lisa Desjardins (01:27):

Quickly, the event about a deep divide became a showcase of it, with protestors outside the room, furious with Republicans and Trump, and the audience inside, many personally hurt by crime, railing at Democrats as not respecting them.

Speaker 2 (01:44):

A bunch of lying phonies, every one of you.

Dan Goldman (01:47):

Capitol Police will remove the gentleman from the audience.

Speaker 2 (01:48):

Let me tell you.

Lisa Desjardins (01:49):

It was an impassioned and sometimes feverish collision over what and who is the problem. Republicans say crime.

Speaker 3 (01:57):

We have to address the fact that there are people who are willing to kill and stab and hurt other people.

Lisa Desjardins (02:02):

Major crime in New York City is higher than it was two years ago, but over the past year it’s been going down. Democrats say all this is about a different threat to the law, that Jordan is using the power of Congress to attack the local prosecutor, Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, whose office is right around the corner.

Alvin Bragg (02:20):

Everyone stands equal before the law.

Lisa Desjardins (02:23):

Bragg is the one prosecuting former President Trump on 34 accounts of accounting fraud. Trump has furiously counterattacked, charging that Bragg is corrupt and the case political, “Jordan’s a Trump ally, and his moves here raise both the seriousness and the stakes for all branches of government.”

How unusual is this?

Dave Rapallo (02:42):

It’s extremely unusual. It’s unprecedented, I would say.

Lisa Desjardins (02:45):

Dave Rapallo worked as Chief Investigative Council for the House Oversight Committee under Democratic chairman, Henry Waxman. He says, “Jordan, like all chairs, faces one key limit.”

Dave Rapallo (02:55):

Under current law, a committee investigation has to serve a valid legislative interest.

Lisa Desjardins (03:00):

Jim Jordan, in his subpoena of a former Manhattan prosecutor, addressed that, writing that his committee could consider legislation to insulate presidents from political prosecution.

Prosecutor Bragg had a fast response. He sued. Last week, he asked courts to block Jordan’s subpoena, calling it a, “Brazen, unconstitutional move to intimidate investigators.” At stake, not only the future for former President Trump, but also for the legal system and Congress’s power long-term.

Dave Rapallo (03:30):

I think the stakes are high, and I personally am a little concerned, not just that the committee might lose the case, but it might result in a judicial opinion that is a terrible precedent for Congress when it may want to conduct legitimate investigations in the future.

Lisa Desjardins (03:46):

Right now, the situation is a political volcano and explosive as it was in the hearing.

Dan Goldman (03:51):

We all know why you’re here, so don’t play the political games. You want to have a meaningful conversation, let’s talk.

Lisa Desjardins (03:58):

This is just one of many investigations and throbbing tension points that Congress brings back as it returns to Washington this week.

Republicans are pledging to hold more hearings on crime in more cities. Democrats say they’re ready to respond, including with information about crime in Republican-led areas.


Speaker 1 (04:17):

Fascinating report, Lisa. You did mention the Republican investigation into Alvin Bragg and the standoff that’s ensued. So where does all of this leave that pro?

Lisa Desjardins (04:29):

There will be action in that this week. On Wednesday, federal district court judge here in New York will hold the first hearing there. That’s to determine whether or not Chairman Jordan can go ahead with his subpoena of former prosecutors. Again, something unprecedented. The truth is, though, that these kinds of cases traditionally have taken months, if not years in the federal court system.

Meanwhile, the case against former President Trump is expected to move forward, perhaps to trial even next spring. So Jim Jordan may not be able to get his subpoenas granted in time for that trial, the thing that he’s investigating.

Speaker 1 (05:03):

Lisa, you also mentioned in your report there are limitations to what Congress can do in these circumstances. Help us understand what you meant by that.

Lisa Desjardins (05:12):

This is a fascinating area of law, of course, and it goes back to the Constitution and the 10th Amendment, which essentially grants states all of the powers which are not specifically enumerated to the federal government. For years, that’s been interpreted to mean that states have oversight of district attorney states and local governments.

As a precedent, going back to 1880, the time near the time of Chester Arthur, that the Supreme Court made it very clear that for Congress to investigate something, it does have power, but it has to have a legislative or congressional purpose. Meaning, hypothetically it has to have some kind of law that it could come up with that is bearing on this, and there are questions about whether or not there is a role for Congress in this area.

Speaker 1 (05:53):

Finally, Lisa, bring us back into that hearing room today because we did expect some strong disagreement for sure, but that really descended into some very heated moments. You were in the room. Tell us what you took away from being in there.

Lisa Desjardins (06:07):

Amna, you and I and our viewers, we’ve all seen a lot over these past few years, and also this is New York, New Yorkers are not shy about their opinions. They have strong opinions. I expected that in that hearing room today.

What I didn’t expect was that sense of larger than politics, cultural disappointment and dissonance. What I’m talking about is an idea that I got from all different sides in that room today, that these years of disagreement and divide over the issues you heard about; guns, crime, former President Trump, what he represents, that the lack of resolution on those issues itself is pushing forth an even greater feeling of discontent. And in that room, that bubbled up past discontent. I almost saw a fist fight in that room today.

So it just struck me that, really, politics is feeding into this, but this was something more than politics at play as well, sort of a tempest in our country that seems to be going ever strong at this moment.


Speaker 1 (07:03):

That is Lisa Desjardins reporting for us tonight from New York. Lisa, thank you as always.

Lisa Desjardins (07:08):

You’re welcome.

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