Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been denied a request for a temporary restraining order by a federal judge to prevent the House Judiciary Committee from subpoenaing former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz. The subpoena was issued with a valid legislative purpose in connection with the broad and indispensable congressional power to conduct investigations. Lawyers for both the committee and Bragg’s office were in court over whether the GOP-led committee has a right to subpoena the former prosecutor. The former prosecutor is believed to have played a role in the investigation that led to the recent indictment of former President Donald Trump.
The judge tasked with making the ruling, Mary Kay Vyskocil, was appointed to the bench by Trump and confirmed by the Senate in 2019. Vyskocil challenged the attorney representing the Manhattan district attorney’s office on their arguments that Rep. Jim Jordan and the Judiciary Committee do not have a legislative purpose in subpoenaing Pomerantz. Lawyers for Bragg’s office conceded that the use of federal funding is a valid legislative purpose, but argued that only $5,000 in federal funds were used in the Trump Organization tax fraud case that ended in a conviction in December, not the indictment of the former president himself.
An attorney for the Judiciary Committee said it intends to investigate what they believe is a politically motivated prosecution of Trump by Bragg’s office. Berry said the political motivations of Bragg’s prosecution are relevant “because it makes the case for federal action stronger.” Vyskocil challenged, “Doesn’t it politicize it on your side as well?”
Vyskocil also questioned whether Pomerantz’s recently published book about the investigation into Trump waives the DA’s office right to confidentiality over information already published in the book. An attorney for Bragg’s office argued that the former prosecutor ignored cautions from his former employer before publishing the book, so the district attorney’s office should not be penalized.
Bragg, a Democrat, sued Jordan, last week to block the subpoena to a former prosecutor, alleging the lawmakers are engaged in a “transparent campaign to intimidate and attack” the DA’s office. Bragg is seeking a judge for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to block this subpoena and any future subpoenas to him or other current or former prosecutors.
The clash between federal and state powers began in March when Jordan asked Bragg’s office for documents and communications after news organizations reported that Bragg’s office was moving closer to seeking to indict Trump. Jordan called it an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.” Bragg’s office has alleged that a Trump attorney worked behind the scenes to enlist help from allies in Congress and called Jordan’s inquiry into the ongoing criminal investigation an unconstitutional and “unprecedented inquiry into a local prosecution.”
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