ORLANDO, Florida — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg faces a Thursday deadline to come forward to appear before three congressional panels for a transcribed interview, the chairman of one of those committees told Breitbart News exclusively here at the House GOP retreat.
“We gave him until Thursday to come forward,” House Administration Committee chairman Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) told Breitbart News of the push to bring Bragg in. “We look forward to his response.”
Steil chairs one of the three congressional committees—the others being the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and the House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. James Comer (R-KY)—that demanded Bragg appear for a transcribed interview with congressional investigators to explain his rationale in the looming indictment of former President Donald Trump. Steil was at the House GOP retreat here this week, and sat for an exclusive interview with Breitbart News to lay out the contours of the blossoming investigation into Bragg.
House Admin Chairman @RepBryanSteil, Judiciary Chairman @Jim_Jordan , and House Oversight Chairman @RepJamesComer sent a letter to Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg demanding communications, documents & testimony relating to Bragg’s unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority. pic.twitter.com/jW3RklvHWu
— House Admin. Committee GOP (@HouseAdmin) March 20, 2023
“The Committee on House Administration has jurisdiction over federal election law,” Steil told Breitbart News. “So, we’re working with Chairman Comer and working with Chairman Jordan. I think the question that needs to be answered is: Is this a political move? When you look at the fact that previous prosecutors have reviewed this and ultimately made a decision not to prosecute, and he made a previous decision he wasn’t going to move forward and now he is moving forward, what changed? The only thing that changed is President Trump has announced he is running for reelection. I think that broadly for the American people we are concerned about the politicization of our judicial system, and as you look at this case there are clear questions that I think need to be answered about whether there is a misuse of federal funds that are intended to actually do things like reduce crime that are actually being repurposed for political purposes.”
In this Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, file photo, Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) speaks before President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the Waukesha County Airport in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Morry Gash, File/AP)
The big question that congressional investigators have for Bragg is whether he has used federal tax dollars provided to his office meant to fight crime for the purposes of politically targeting Trump—something leaders in Congress would consider an abuse of the purpose of the funds.
“Money is fungible. It depends on how it is tied,” Steil said. “Those are the questions I think are appropriate to ask and I think we need the answers to. So I think it’s one of the reasons we’ve asked him to come in and explain. We’ve asked him to come in and do a written transcript and deposition—that’s in the letter. That’s why we’re asking him to come before us—is there a misuse of federal funds? It’s a question to ask. We want to broadly depoliticize our judicial system, which has been highly politicized over the years.”
Bragg has not yet agreed to appear for the transcribed interview, but investigators had only asked for him to turn up for it on Monday—with the short deadline of Thursday of this week—and Steil said if Bragg refuses to cooperate with the investigation he will consult with Jordan and Comer on whether to subpoena Bragg to compel his appearance.
“We’ll make decisions and consultations with Jim Jordan and Jamie Comer if he doesn’t respond,” Steil said when asked if subpoenas were on the table. “I’m hopeful that he responds.”
In addition to testimony from Bragg, Steil’s letter with Jordan and Comer formally requests production of a series of documents as well.
“There are series of documents we set out in the letter and I think people should understand—the American people should know—what is exactly transpiring and leading to the conclusion he is likely to move forward on,” Steil said.
Steil also said there may be federal staff on loan from the Department of Justice to Bragg’s office that could be a focus for investigators.
“So this is the broader question that’s underlying this which is are there federal resources being utilized for political purposes and that is I think a really appropriate question I think for your federal government to be asking local prosecutors,” Steil said.
As for whether public hearings come from his committee, or Jordan’s committee or Comer’s committee, Steil said he is not yet sure.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) (L) and Rep. James Comer (R-KY) confer during a hearing on Capitol Hill on June 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“We’re going to continue to track this. I don’t want to set forward an exact path we have to take,” Steil said. “Step one is I hope he comes in and shares his explanation for this and then we will go from there. I think we will be far more informed if he came forward and shared his view.”
Steil said, too, that he views this as a “very significant moment” in American history as this would be the first time in the nation’s nearly 250 years that a former president has faced charges.
“If these charges come forward, there is a real concern about the precedent this would set,” Steil said. “We live in the greatest democracy the world has ever seen in the United States of America and what we can’t allow is a weaponization of our judicial system for political purposes.”
Steil brought up how Bragg won the Democrat nomination for the office of Manhattan District Attorney by winning just 85,000 votes—which he said “more or less guarantees, in New York City, that he is going to win the general election.” That is true because Bragg won the general election in the Democrat stronghold with 83 percent of the general election vote—after his approximately 85,000 votes, which was less than 35 percent, won him the nomination.
“Now he is almost making himself almost more powerful than the DOJ,” Steil said. “So, prosecutors could be utilized in these elections for political purposes rather than what local prosecutors truly are for, which is to keep their cities safe—which is the opposite of what he has been doing. You can look at how many felonies he’s brought down to misdemeanors and how crime has spiked in liberal cities across the country. In this case, it appears he is taking a misdemeanor and running a unique argument to try to create a felony charge.”
This case in particular, Steil told Breitbart News, has thrown into sharp contrast for Americans just how bad leftist weaponization of government for political purposes truly is.
“Myself and a lot of conservatives have been really concerned for a long time about the politicization of our judicial system,” Steil said. “This really highlights the risk of what can occur if you allow your judicial system to be politicized and used for purposes other than keeping your community safe. We’ve seen this in cities across the country where progressive, liberal prosecutors win elections and don’t utilize their positions to actually keep their cities safe.”
Steil’s House Administration Committee will play an integral role in the growing investigation into Bragg’s activities. Asked to explain how it fits together with the other committees, he said the three will work together as a team to get the facts for the public.
“I think some of this is we’re going to work together as a team between Jim Jordan, Jim Comer, and myself to get the answers,” Steil said. “So rather than creating a situation where there is a conflict between the three committees, I actually think we have a unique opportunity to work together. Obviously, Jim Comer has oversight over pretty much everything. Jim Jordan has it as it relates to criminal law. We have it as it relates to election law. We’re going to leverage and utilize the strength of our committees to get the answers for the American people that I think the American people deserve.”
What’s more, Bragg’s moves come after years of Democrats blasting Republicans as a threat to democracy in the wake of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, but Democrats may be the actual threat to democracy if they are using the judicial system to settle political scores. Asked about this conflict between what Democrats have said and what Democrats are actually doing, Steil said this is the concern with the politicization of the justice system.
“This is, you bring up I think the broader concern of what happens if you allow your judicial system to be politicized,” Steil said. “It’s the exact reason you want to depoliticize your judicial system. We see time and time again liberal prosecutors come in with a political agenda rather than an agenda of keeping their cities safe.”