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House Republicans rally after Trump indictment, amping up attacks on Manhattan D.A.

Dozens of House Republicans rallied to Donald Trump’s defense Friday, a day after he became the first former president in U.S. history to be criminally prosecuted and following weeks of contentious letters traded between Capitol Hill and the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

News of the indictment landed late Thursday as members of Congress were headed to their home states and districts to kick off a two-week recess. Trump is facing charges related to an alleged hush-money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels made by Michael Cohen, the former president’s attorney, as the 2016 campaign was coming to a close.

House Republicans swiftly emerged as a key line of political defense for Trump, who is expected to be arraigned Tuesday, according to news reports. They have sought to portray Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg as a far-left Democrat who has been soft on crime in his state while pursuing an unprecedented prosecution of a former president.

GOP members have repeatedly characterized the indictment as a politicized effort to stop Trump from ousting President Biden in 2024.

“They’re terrified that they can’t legitimately beat Trump,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) tweeted Friday morning. “So they’re desperately trying to abuse and misapply the law … again. This is a dark moment in American history — but we won’t let them get away with it.”

By early Friday, the pro-Trump Make America Great Again PAC blasted out an email highlighting “responses from prominent Republicans and conservatives to Thursday’s indictment news.” Of the 53 statements listed, 27 — a majority — cited House Republicans. Republicans in the House outnumber Senate Republicans and GOP governors, and the House Republican conference is also where Trump has the most influence — he remains a revered figure in most GOP members’ districts.

According to CNN, Trump phoned members Thursday night “to shore up support.” He spent much of Friday promoting his defenders’ television hits on his social media platform, Truth Social.

A Times analysis of Twitter posts found that at least 56 House Republicans tweeted or retweeted between midnight and 6 p.m. Eastern time on Friday some combination of support for Trump and criticism of Bragg and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Thursday statement that the former president “has the right to a trial to prove innocence” — rather than the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” — as well as promoting of interviews on conservative networks such as Fox News and Newsmax.

In addition to publicizing the full-throated defense from his allies and surrogates, Trump defended himself on Truth Social, making unfounded claims about his indictment.

“They have closely studied 11,000,000 pages of documents, financial records, and tax returns (some gotten illegally!), billions of dollars worth of deals and transactions, and they’ve got nothing,” Trump wrote in all-caps. “After 8 years of various politically motivated investigations, hoaxes, scams, and witch hunts, this must make me the most honest and honorable man anywhere in the world. Nobody in history has been through the scrutiny that I have. Make America Great Again!!!”

Back on Twitter, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and the panel he chairs, the House Judiciary Committee, were among Trump’s most prominent and vocal advocates. Responding to Pelosi’s statement about Trump’s right to prove his innocence, Jordan tweeted that “it’s scary” Democrats think that way and attempted to paint Bragg as a partisan who selectively targets Republicans, asking whether the prosecutor was “looking into Hunter Biden’s art sales and business records in New York City.”

The committee tweeted: “Record crime. Record grocery prices. Record illegal immigration. What are Joe Biden’s Democrat friends focused on? Indicting President Trump.”

Other House Republicans claimed that targeting Trump was just the beginning, with at least a couple members likening America to China or Russia.

“Vladimir Putin has nothing on Alvin Bragg,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) said.

Though the indictment isn’t likely to be unsealed until Tuesday, Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.) called it “nothing more than a fraught attempt by the far left to weaponize the American justice system & do Joe Biden’s political dirty work in the courtroom.” He added that Bragg “should stop making a mockery of the” Constitution and “resign immediately.”

The Times reached out to nearly a dozen Republicans on the Judiciary and Oversight committees. Most offices didn’t respond to a request for comment.

When asked for comment, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — who on her personal Twitter account Friday vowed to “protest the unconstitutional WITCH HUNT” in New York on Tuesday — told The Times through a spokesperson that Bragg “made a very dangerous, and, in my opinion, illegal mistake.”

“In the end he will be the one that looks like a fool because President Trump will be able to beat this indictment in court,” she said. “It’s easy to get a grand jury to give an indictment, but it’s a whole other matter to get a guilty verdict in court that Bragg will not get.”

In a six-page document Friday morning, Bragg’s office told Chairmen Jordan of the Judiciary Committee, Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) of the House Administration Committee and James Comer (R-Ky.) of the Oversight Committee that the New York grand jury “found probable cause to accuse Mr. Trump of having committed crimes” and noted that the ex-president is entitled to due process.

“What neither Mr. Trump nor Congress may do is interfere with the ordinary course of proceedings in New York State,” wrote General Counsel Leslie Dubeck of the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Earlier this month Jordan, Steil and Comer’s committees requested communications and documents from the district attorney’s office, as well as a transcribed interview with Bragg The committees reiterated their requests last week.

In Friday’s response, Dubeck argued that the first letter from the committee chairmen “made an unprecedented request” for confidential information while the second “asserts that, by failing to provide [that information], the District Attorney somehow failed to dispute your baseless and inflammatory allegations that our investigation is politically motivated. That conclusion is misleading and meritless.”

Dubeck’s letter concludes by writing: “We trust that you will make a good-faith effort to reach a negotiated resolution before taking the unprecedented and unconstitutional step of serving a subpoena on a district attorney for information related to an ongoing state criminal prosecution.”

The committees did not respond to requests for comment from The Times. But on Thursday, the House Judiciary GOP Twitter account quote-tweeted a post from a Fox News congressional reporter who said, citing House Republican sources, that the congressional committee chairs probing Bragg “will take a step back until [Trump] is arraigned.”

“Fake News,” the committee‘s account said.

File source

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