WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Monday in Manhattan to highlight what they claim is rampant crime in New York City. But Democrats think differently, refuting that the hearing’s real purpose is to interfere with the Manhattan District Attorney following former President Donald Trump’s indictment.
“We’re here today in lower Manhattan for one reason and one reason only: The chairman is doing the bidding for Donald Trump,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the whose district includes Manhattan.
The raucous field hearing welcomed Congress back to session after a two-week recess in lawmakers first time convening since Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump with 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.
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More: Manhattan DA Bragg sues House GOP Rep. Jordan over Donald Trump criminal case
Bragg declines to testify
House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called for Bragg to testify before the committee, but Bragg declined.
“The House GOP continues to attempt to undermine an active investigation and ongoing New York criminal case with an unprecedented campaign of harassment and intimidation,” Bragg tweeted in a statement.
The heated hearing, which strayed from crime in New York City to the former president’s indictment, left Democrats pointing the finger at the GOP for holding what they called a “sham hearing” in an effort to suppress the prosecution of Trump.
Here are some key moments from the hearing, which is ongoing as of noon Monday:
Nadler comments draw outburst
Nadler said the Monday hearing was an effort to intimidate and deter Bragg from his work.
He said the Judiciary committee has demanded access to the innerworkings of an ongoing criminal case involving Bragg’s charges against Trump. This puts future congressional oversight at risk, Nadler said.
Bragg filed a lawsuit against Jordan, calling the Ohio Republican’s inquiry into the prosecution of former President Donald Trump “an unprecedentedly brazen and unconstitutional attack” on a local criminal case.
“It is an outrageous abuse of power. It is, to use the chairman’s favorite term, a weaponization of the House Judiciary committee,” Nadler said to outbursts from the audience.
Schiff: GOP acting as ‘criminal defense counsel’ for Trump
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., blamed GOP committee members for using the hearing as a means to disrupt, interrupt and interfere with the prosecution of Trump and said it is a “vain attempt to intimidate or embarrass the prosecutorial authority.”
“They would have you believe it’s a mere coincidence that all of a sudden, out of the blue, the chairman decided that the state of New York is a wonderful place to do a hearing,” the California representative said.
Schiff said the GOP leadership is acting as “the criminal defense counsel” for Trump.
The comment brought an outburst from an audience member who yelled in response to Schiff’s comments. The man continued screaming while Capitol police escorted him out of the hearing room.
Rep. Cicilline calls for change of venue
After a witness testified that crimes rates have decreased in New York City, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., questioned Jordan as to how the hearing could be transferred to Ohio, where the homicide rate is three times higher than in New York, according to Bragg’s office.
New York Police Department statistics show homicides, shootings, burglaries and robberies are down during the first quarter of the year.
“How do we move the venue so we can have a hearing in a city or state that has a serious crime problem? The state of Ohio,” Cicilline said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House GOP hearing in NYC on crime targets Trump indictment, Dems say