A former prosecutor with the Manhattan Attorney’s Office is required to appear for testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, despite prosecutors’ allegations that House Republicans are trying to interfere with his investigation into former President Donald Trump.
In a decision Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil sided with the arguments of the panel led by Rep. Jim Jordan that the panel’s subpoena of former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz was lawful and appropriate.
“The subpoena was issued with a ‘valid legislative purpose’ in conjunction with Congress’ ‘broad’ and ‘indispensable’ authority to ‘investigate,'” wrote the judge, who is a Trump nominee. “Mr. Pomerantz is due to appear before Congress for testimony. Nobody is above the law.”
Bragg filed a lawsuit against the committee and Jordan, R-Ohio, in federal court in Manhattan last week, accusing them of improperly attempting to interfere in his pursuit of Trump for political reasons.
Jordan insisted that Bragg’s investigation was politically motivated. His committee subpoenaed Pomerantz, who was involved in the prosecution’s investigation into Trump, to testify Thursday.
The judge, in her ruling, mocked the prosecutors’ 50-page complaint, saying, “The first 35 pages of the complaint have little to do with the subpoena in question and are nothing short of a public relations tirade against the former president and current presidential nominee Donald Trump.”
It also targeted prosecutors’ allegations that the committee was attempting to subvert the Trump investigation.
“There is no question that New York, a sovereign state in our federal system, has the authority to enforce its criminal laws through its local prosecutors,” she wrote. “However, the court rejects the premise that the committee’s investigation will adversely affect the ongoing prosecution of DANY. The subpoena of Pomerantz, who was a private citizen and public commentator at the time Bragg impeached Trump, will not prevent or impede ongoing prosecutions in New York state court.”
The judge added that she didn’t care about the political blame on either side of the case.
“The court does not approve of the agenda of both sides. The only question facing the court at this time is whether Bragg has any legal basis to vacate a subpoena from Congress that was issued with a valid legislative purpose. He doesn’t have any,” she wrote in her 25-page rule.
There was no immediate comment from prosecutors. At a hearing in the case earlier Wednesday, Bragg’s attorneys said they would seek a stay from the US Circuit Court of Appeals if Vyskocil did not rule in their favor.
The complaint was filed early Wednesday evening. Pomerantz also appealed.
A spokesman for Jordan, Russell Dye, said the judge’s decision “shows Congress’ ability to oversee and issue subpoenas for individuals like Mark Pomerantz, and we look forward to his testimony before the Judiciary Committee.”
Jordan had argued that Pomerantz’s previous role in the prosecutor’s office leading an investigation into Trump’s finances put him “in a unique position to provide relevant and necessary information to his committee’s investigations.” He also noted that Pomerantz has previously disclosed information about the investigation in a book published in February, as well as in media interviews.
Bragg’s lawsuit sought a court order blocking the subpoena to Pomerantz, calling it an “unprecedentedly brazen and unconstitutional attack” on an ongoing investigation.
“Congress has no authority to oversee state prosecutions,” Bragg’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous, wrote in the lawsuit.
Jordan, who last year declined a Jan. 6 subpoena from the Democrat-led committee, argued he was not trying to interfere in the investigation. He claimed that his committee needed Pomerantz’s information in part for a “legislative purpose” — a bill that would allow state criminal cases against former presidents to be brought to federal court.
Bragg pointed to this bill as evidence that the committee is trying to get involved, as it would apply “to all cases pending at the time of passage.”
“The filing confirms that the purpose of the subpoena is to advance a plan to intimidate, harass, avenge, and ‘hold accountable’ District Attorney Bragg for violating the New York criminal statute against a then-New Yorker, Mr. Trump, prevailed,” argued the prosecutor.
“The defendants in Congress want the district attorney — an officer vested with the sovereign authority of New York State by his laws and his people — to bend the knee and tell us exactly what he’s doing.”
Bragg, who had instructed Pomerantz not to respond to the committee’s subpoena, also sued Pomerantz to block his testimony, arguing that the interests and privileges of the prosecutor’s office needed to be protected.
Pomerantz filed a statement in court Monday, asking the judge to block the subpoena for his testimony because he was in an “impossible position.”
“[I]If I refuse to provide information to the committee, I risk being held in defiance of Congress and referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. On the other hand, if I defy the district attorney’s orders and answer questions, I face possible legal or ethical consequences, including criminal prosecution,” his filing reads.
Pomerantz, who resigned from Bragg’s office in February 2022, also stressed that he “was not involved in the decision to press charges against Donald Trump.”
“I have had no discussions with the district attorney or any member of the prosecution team regarding the prosecution of Mr. Trump after my resignation,” Pomerantz said.
Jordan held an on-site hearing in Manhattan Monday to attack Bragg. It featured victims of violent crime to highlight Republican arguments that Bragg dropped the ball on public safety to focus on pursuing Trump. Bragg’s office has pointed to new data showing that crime in Manhattan has dropped significantly during his tenure.
The prosecutor’s office had been investigating Trump for years before Bragg took office.
Earlier this month, Bragg indicted Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged role in hush money payments late in his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has pleaded not guilty and has described the investigation as a partisan “witch hunt.”
Vyskocil was nominated by Trump in 2019 and easily confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 91 to 3.