Rep. James Comer (R-KY) tried to defend his attempted obstruction of Alvin Bragg’s investigation, but CNN’s Jake Tapper used facts to blow holes in his argument.
Clip of House Oversight Committee Chair Comer:
House Oversight Committee Chair Comer claims that the Manhattan investigation into Trump is actually a federal investigation, and when Jake Tapper asked him about Bragg investigating Trump for local and state criminal violations, Comer immediately changed the subject. pic.twitter.com/uFdoFkMdnK
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) March 26, 2023
Transcript via CNN’s State Of The Union:
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Well, what the DA is trying to say is what you just quoted. He said, stay out of local investigations.
The problem with that is, this is not a local investigation. This is a federal investigation. He’s investigating a presidential candidate, not to mention former president of the United States, for a federal election crime.
That has no business being litigated in a local district attorney’s office.
And when he says he’s not going to cooperate with Congress, unfortunately for Mr. Bragg, he doesn’t have the luxury of determining whether or not he can comply with congressional requests, because he crossed over two levels of government from the local level to the federal level to try to prosecute something that, clearly, if there was a reason for prosecution, it should be done by the Department of Justice on the federal level.
TAPPER: Well, he’s investigating, as I understand it, potential violations of state crimes.
COMER: Even at that, look, let’s just be honest here.
I mean, this is about politics. This is a presidential candidate. When you look at what we believe the role of the Manhattan DA should be is to fight crime. I mean, that’s one of the biggest issues in New York. We saw that in the midterm elections last November.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected many Democrat candidates because of the crime issue. We have a crime crisis in many of our cities. And we’re trying to do something about that in the House of Representatives. And one of the reasons we believe we have high crime rates in certain parts of America is because we have prosecutors that are soft on crime.
And we believe that our tax dollars — and that’s where I come in with the House Oversight — we believe tax dollars would be better spent prosecuting local criminals. That’s what a DA is supposed to do.
TAPPER: Are you arguing that people who commit business crimes are not committing crimes?
COMER: Look, well, is this a business crime? We’re talking about a federal election crime here, Jake. This is a federal election crime.
The Manhattan DA does not write federal electoral law.
COMER: Congress writes federal election law.
TAPPER: My understanding is that he’s being investigated for falsifying business records. It’s — there was a related prosecution. Michael Cohen went to prison. That was a federal investigation from the U.S. attorney during the Trump years.
But that U.S. attorney, Mr. Berman, prosecuted — and Mr. Khuzami — prosecuted Michael Cohen. He went to prison for the that, as well as related crimes. I don’t remember hearing anything from you during that period. I guess he wasn’t a candidate, but he had been working for Donald Trump.
Comer appears to be suggesting that state campaign finance laws don’t apply to federal office candidates, which is on its face nonsensical, but presidential campaigns aren’t national elections. Presidential elections are a series of 50 state elections that are managed by each state.
Rep. Comer is suggesting that Trump is above state and local laws because he is running for president. However, if a presidential candidate violates a state law, they can be charged in that state. Trump is potentially facing criminal charges for violating Georgia’s election interference laws in 2020.
Comer ignored the fact that Trump claimed the hush money payment as a legal expense when it was not. Trump potentially committed fraud.
Jake Tapper was ready for Comer, and when he asked a very logical question about local prosecutors being able to investigate local crimes, Comer changed the subject and started talking about urban crime.
House Republicans know that they have no jurisdiction over local prosecutors, as their efforts are all about political pushback for Trump instead of upholding the rule of law.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association