He wants to smear the Manhattan district attorney who is prosecuting Donald Trump. But there are some silver linings.
There goes Jim Jordan, the MAGA chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and its “weaponization of government” subcommittee, driving his clown car to a new town. Since February, he has hosted hearings that have flopped harder than a distracted trapeze artist. As Francis Wilkinson wrote in the Nation yesterday, Jordan doesn’t “seem able to manufacture a political hit for a new era.”
Now Jordan has announced that he’s packing up the tent and hitting the road: Next week, the committee will be taking a taxpayer-funded field trip to New York. Why New York? To go after Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, whom Donald Trump, in his patented racist style, has called an “animal” and about whom Trump has screeched that “THE DEMOCRATS HAVE TOTALLY WEAPONIZED LAW ENFORCEMENT IN OUR COUNTRY . . . TO INTERFERE WITH OUR ALREADY UNDER SIEGE ELECTIONS!”
The darkness here in attacking law enforcement is unmistakable. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, sees a silver lining—an opportunity for Democrats to shed the reputation of being the party that wants to “defund the police.” Recall that Jordan and other Republicans have asked about any federal funding to Bragg’s office. And Trump literally called for defunding the FBI last week. Schumer hopes he can get the label of lawlessness to stick to the GOP.
Another silver lining is even harder to see, obscured as it is by the black cloud of gerrymandering. Given the shape and demographics of his congressional district, Jordan is so insulated from accountability to moderate voters that spending government money on this kind of stunt is of no moment to his political future. This lack of accountability frees Jordan to follow Trump’s lead, which—and here’s that silver lining—will likely only continue to put off swing voters and accelerate the national party’s slide down the tubes in 2024.
Need a sign of where it’s going? An ABC-Ipsos poll conducted last week shows that a puny 25 percent of voters are now thumbs-up on Trump, 62 percent thumbs down. A majority thinks Trump committed crimes, 20 percent think he did no wrong. He’s deep into Richard Nixon polling territory in July 1974, when the Supreme Court told him to turn over to prosecutors the White House tapes that he was trying to cover up.
Then there’s the April 10 Tufts University Public Opinion Lab study showing that Trump’s endorsement doesn’t help Republican candidates but actually costs them on average 7 points of support.
As for Jordan parading his tired act onto the Great White Way, Alvin Bragg’s office pointedly said yesterday that it “welcomes public safety conversations. We have them every day with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.”
What’s more, Bragg—in response to a week of Republican attacks claiming that he was ignoring “real crime” because he was too distracted prosecuting Trump—highlighted new NYPD crime data showing that during his first year in office, murders are down 14 percent, shootings are down 17 percent, burglaries are down 21 percent, and robberies are down 8 percent.
Then, like a skilled politician, Bragg pointed out that New York’s murder rate of 5.2 percent was among the lowest among major cities in the country, “nearly three times lower than that of Columbus, Ohio,” which sits just outside Jordan’s own district.
But Bragg was not about to leave the door wide open to Jordan’s attempt to intrude on his ongoing investigation by subpoenaing Mark Pomerantz, a former Bragg deputy, for an April 20 deposition. On Tuesday, Bragg filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop that from happening.
To push the narrative that Bragg should be prosecuting crimes other than those committed by Donald Trump, Jordan said that his committee will hear in New York “from ‘victims’ of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s policies.”
In other words, “Let’s exploit a few victims of crime for political gain.” America, prepare for Jordan’s shameless partisan attacks on the discretion that all prosecutors deploy in deciding which crimes they can prove and which they can’t.
We don’t yet know the circumstances of these victims, but any former prosecutor can safely say this much: There are boatloads of cases where the cops can’t find the perpetrator, or where the witnesses or the documents just aren’t there to make a winnable case.
Expect capable Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee—like Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both former prosecutors—to support the victims while emphasizing the standard that prosecutors use before indicting: full confidence that they have proof beyond a reasonable doubt so that they can obtain a guilty verdict.
Schiff, Swalwell, and others can make these points: In some cases, you just don’t have that confidence, and you can’t proceed. But in bringing the case of People of the State of New York v. Trump, Bragg obviously did.