The House Judiciary Committee fired off a letter to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis this week, thereby launching its second inquiry into a local criminal case against former President Donald Trump.
Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), a fervent Trump supporter, wrote that Willis’s prosecution involved “substantial federal interests,” an argument he and other committee chairmen also made repeatedly this year during tense exchanges with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg amid his prosecution of Trump in New York.
In his responses, Bragg charged that the chairmen were inappropriately meddling in state affairs.
Their “attempted interference with an ongoing state criminal investigation—and now prosecution—is an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests,” Bragg wrote in one response.
The exchanges culminated in a lawsuit brought by Bragg in an attempt to block Jordan from subpoenaing one of his former attorneys and to more broadly “put an end to [Congress’s] constitutionally destructive fishing expedition.”
A federal judge sided with Jordan, acknowledging he had the authority to investigate Bragg’s case, especially for the purpose of considering relevant legislation.
Now, perhaps to bypass such back-and-forth again, Jordan has laid out in explicit detail to Willis the “substantial federal interests” he has with her office.
Willis this month indicted Trump and 18 others, including former White House officials, on felony racketeering charges, alleging they illegally attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.
Jordan asked Willis to provide his committee with several documents and communications, citing four justifications for the demand.
First, he said, the indictment prompted concerns about the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because it appeared to “use state criminal law to regulate the conduct of federal officers acting in their official capacities.”
Next, the federal government has the authority to investigate anything that would affect the “welfare” of former presidents, Jordan said, noting how they are privy to several federal benefits, such as Secret Service, once they leave office. He added that the indictment “implicates” the 2024 presidential election, in which Trump is the GOP front-runner. He said that was also a “core federal interest.”
As a third matter, Jordan cited an argument he also made to Bragg that Congress has jurisdiction over federal dollars and that he could therefore investigate any district attorney office’s expenditures when federal funds were involved.
Lastly, the chairman pointed to “questions about whether and how [Willis’s] office coordinated with DOJ.” He noted the parallels between Willis’s indictment and the 2020 election-related federal indictment brought against Trump by special counsel Jack Smith in Washington, D.C.
“Congress has an interest in any such activity that involves federal law enforcement agencies and officials that fall under its oversight,” Jordan wrote.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), a committee member and former military prosecutor, blasted Jordan’s latest inquiry as “stupid,” though he only pointed to one aspect of it in his criticism.
“His ‘investigation’ is stupid,” Lieu wrote on social media. “DOJ and FBI agents work with local law enforcement all the time. Totally irrelevant if they did that here, or not.”
Committee ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) did not respond to a request for comment on the Willis investigation, but he did repeatedly tear into committee Republicans earlier this year for using their majority power to “defend Trump” instead of standing by and letting Bragg’s case play out in court.
Jordan’s inquiry into Bragg has appeared dormant since his lawsuit success and deposition of Bragg’s former attorney, Mark Pomerantz, but a spokesperson said it remains open and noted the committee is also mulling legislation related to Bragg’s indictment, such as Rep. Russell Fry’s (R-SC) No More Political Prosecutions Act.
As for the inquiry into Willis, Jordan gave the district attorney until Sept. 7 to respond to him with the materials he requested.