Trump backlash: House GOP unleashes legislation to block local prosecutions of presidents

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) says multiple bills are coming from fellow committee members Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

Published: April 13, 2023 4:37pm

Updated: April 13, 2023 5:31pm

In the aftermath of Donald Trump's historic indictment, House Republicans are putting the finishing touches on legislation that would restrict state and local prosecutors from prosecuting current or former presidents by allowing such cases to be moved to federal court, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan told Just the News on Thursday.

Jordan said the lead legislation, spearheaded by fellow committee member Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.), would give America's chief executives a venue change option.

Slated to be introduced this week, the bill, according to Jordan, "says if you have someone, a local DA, going to take on a former president and a current candidate and they go indict them, then that case automatically gets bumped to federal court, not some local or state court."

Fry said his bill will be called the No More Political Prosecutions Act and would offer presidents and vice presidents, both former and current, the option to move their own civil or criminal cases from a state court to a federal court. 

"Presidents and Vice Presidents are among the most visible politicians in the United States government — making them a target for rogue prosecutors looking to build up their profile and make a name for themselves on the political stage," Fry's office said. "Because of that threat, it's important for Presidents and Vice Presidents to have the option to move their case to a federal court — where judges are confirmed by the U.S. Senate, serve in their role for life, and don’t need to win an election to keep their position."

A second bill, offered by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), would prohibit prosecutors from using federal asset forfeiture funds to investigate presidents, something the Manhattan prosecutors who secured the indictment of Trump admit doing.

The No Federal Funds for Political Prosecutions Act prohibits state or local law enforcement agencies from using funds or property seized through asset forfeiture "to investigate or prosecute the President, Vice President, or a candidate for the office of President in a criminal case," Biggs said.

Jordan said the bills are one of may reasons he has subpoenaed witnesses and demanded documents from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose 34-felony count indictment of Trump Republicans have called an abuse of power.

"We think this is federal election interference in the most important election we have, which is election for President of the United States," Jordan said of Bragg's Trump indictment.

Bragg sued Jordan earlier this week in federal court, seeking to block the congressional inquiry. But the Manhattan DA lost his first ruling when the judge declined an emergency injunction requested by the prosecutor.

Jordan told the John Solomon Reports podcast he believes Congress absolutely has authority to investigate Bragg's prosecution, in part because a key to the underlying rationale for the New York charges against Trump for record-keeping violations was the allegation that the violations were designed to hide hush-money payments from the Federal Election Commission back in 2016.

The FEC, however, declined to bring action against Trump when it vetted the allegations years ago.

"It's all about, supposedly, this campaign benefit [Trump] got by this nondisclosure agreement," said Jordan. "So if he uses campaign funds for it, then the FEC would go after him. But if he doesn't use campaign funds, the local DA goes after him. He couldn't win either way. So when you have that kind of conflict in place, of course, it's a federal concern." 

Jordan said his committee is also investigating the departure of a U.S. Justice Department prosecutor to go to work for Bragg on the Trump case.

Asking whether there was "some kind of coordination here," Jordan said, "It looks like when you look at the people who moved from DOJ to work for Alvin Bragg, there may have been. It's one of the things we want to try to get to the bottom off."

Biggs is also planning legislation that would force Bragg's office to return any federal funds it has gotten since Jan. 1, 2022 and ban them from future federal grants. He named that bill the Accountability for Lawless Violence In Our Neighborhoods Act, or the ALVIN Act.

"District Attorney Alvin Bragg ran on a campaign pledge to indict President Trump," Biggs said. "Bragg took the unprecedented action of converting alleged minor business misdemeanors to 34 individual felonies in an attempt to put President Trump behind bars and humiliate him and his supportersThis weaponized prosecutor's office has spent thousands of federal taxpayer dollars to subsidize this political indictment and is demanding millions more in federal grants."

"It's disturbing to see District Attorney Bragg waste federal resources for political purposes rather than addressing the serious crime in his city." 

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