ORLANDO, Florida — U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy lit into leftist Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg at a press conference as House Republicans gathered to discuss and formulate their 2023 agenda plans, with looming likely charges from Bragg against former President Donald Trump coming this week.
Asked by Breitbart News during the press conference, as the House GOP wrapped the first day of its three-day retreat, what he would say to the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election, McCarthy said his message is even broader than that.
“I wouldn’t just talk to 75 million Americans — I would talk to 330 million Americans,” McCarthy said. “I would say it doesn’t matter what side of the issue you’re on. It doesn’t matter if this was President Trump or if this was a Democrat. It should be equal justice in America. And stop going after people because you have political differences. I see people all the time who I have political differences with. I respect their opinion. I may disagree with it. But why would you ever try to use the law for it? It goes directly against everything this Manhattan DA has professed. He brags about lowering felonies to misdemeanors as a prosecutor. We’ve watched crime in New York where people are afraid to walk the streets. We’ve watched campaigns. I will tell you one of the reasons we won races in New York is based upon this DA, of not protecting the citizens of New York — and now he’s spending his time on this? The statute of limitations are gone. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on. This is the type of thing America hates and divides us and is wrong.”
Trump’s announcement on Truth Social on Saturday morning that he expects — based on what he said were “illegal leaks” from Bragg’s office to the media — to be indicted and arrested on Tuesday of this week has upended the news cycle and dominated American political conversation. McCarthy had, before this press conference, announced he was directing all the relevant congressional committees to begin investigating whether or not federal funds were misused by the Manhattan DA in this matter. McCarthy said that Bragg is “abusing his office,” and others in House GOP leadership, including Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, blasted Bragg for the looming move.
The Manhattan DA refuses to prosecute violent criminals terrorizing citizens on the streets and instead wastes taxpayer money on a political vendetta against President Trump.
No wonder hundreds of thousands escaped from New York!
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) March 18, 2023
Arresting President Trump is the epitome of Far Left prosecutors like Alvin Bragg unjustly using their positions to prosecute political opponents.
The weaponization of our government is OUT OF CONTROL.
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) March 18, 2023
The only member of GOP leadership who had not yet weighed in on the potential charges against Trump, House GOP Whip Tom Emmer, did so at the press conference on Sunday evening outside at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando saying he thinks it is “outrageous.”
“Everyone in this country — Republican, Democrat, and others — should be outraged that people will actually use our justice system against their political adversaries,” Emmer said. “That’s not what this country is based on and that’s — it’s wrong and I disagree with it.”
McCarthy, in his comments to the assembled media, lit into Bragg for accepting money from a George Soros-backed organization in his campaign for district attorney, and for rising crime rates in New York that he is ignoring and perhaps exacerbating while instead focusing on Trump.
“Let’s walk through this. This is a DA that won a million dollars from Soros that actually funds, for political purposes, who becomes a DA,” McCarthy said. “This is a DA that has watched crime and prides himself on not prosecuting felonies, and actually lowering them down to misdemeanors, which has caused a lot of the crime and why people have risen up.”
McCarthy also ripped the legal basis for potential charges against Trump, arguing that it is “the weakest case out there” and that the statute of limitations had passed — and that the effort by Bragg to raise it from a misdemeanor to a felony smacks of political persecution.
“This is a DA who has watched two other DAs say this wasn’t a crime in passing,” McCarthy said. “You can go through lawyer after lawyer after lawyer after lawyer and they’ll tell you this is the weakest case out there, trying to make a misdemeanor a felony. The timeline doesn’t work because too long has passed — and doing it after a person for political purposes. So it’s interesting to me that he spent his whole time as a DA lowering felonies not to prosecute. I think Republicans and Democrats alike hate this type of justice. You know, you serve in Washington, so you see the Supreme Court and you see the statute out there: It’s a lady sitting there with a blindfold on and a scale. It’s supposed to be equal to all in America. The last thing we want or have is somebody putting their thumb on the scale simply because they don’t agree with somebody else’s political views. That is what’s wrong and that is what infuriates people. This will not hold up in court if this is what he wants to do.”
McCarthy called on the country, too, to remain calm no matter what happens. He said, “I don’t think people should protest this” and said Trump’s comments, in his view, were taken out of context by many even though he said he had not spoken to Trump about it.
“I don’t think people should protest this, no. I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn’t believe that either,” McCarthy said. “I think the thing you may misinterpret when President Trump talks, when someone says you can protest, you’re probably referring to my tweet — educate people about what’s going on. He’s not talking in a harmful way. Nobody should. Nobody should harm one another in this. This is why you should really make the law even because if that is the case, nothing would happen.”
Later, he reemphasized this point of calling on the public to remain calm. “Nobody, let me be very clear, no matter what transpires — and this doesn’t mean this is going to happen but if this was to happen — we want calmness out there,” McCarthy said. “Nobody should put violence or harm to anything else. But what he’s saying here in this whole process here is we need equal justice in America.”
McCarthy argued with several reporters, too, even asking one if she was “proud” of Bragg’s actions and if she thinks what he is doing is “legally right.” The reporter replied by saying she is not an attorney, so she does not know.
Another reporter asked McCarthy if Trump were to be indicted — and then convicted — on these potential charges from Bragg if that would disqualify him from running for president. McCarthy stood up for Trump and said he can absolutely still run no matter what. “The Constitution allows it. The Constitution allows it,” McCarthy said. “He has a Constitutional right to run.”
McCarthy said he has spoken to House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who also heads that committee’s subcommittee panel on the weaponization of government. “This is tied directly to that,” McCarthy said, referencing the weaponization subcommittee. “I think you’ll see action on that.”
Specifically, McCarthy said he has asked Jordan to investigate whether federal funds or resources were at all used in this case against Trump.
“That’s what I’m concerned about,” McCarthy told another reporter. “That’s why I have to investigate. Do you know the answer to that? Maybe you could help with that. I talked to Chairman Jim Jordan today and I think you’ll see some action on it.”