House Republicans are replaying a familiar script: playing political defense in former President Donald Trump’s legal battles.
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday launched an investigation into Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, hours before Trump is expected to turn himself in following his indictment on racketeering charges related to his push to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state.
Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), in a letter to Willis, said the “indictment and prosecution implicate substantial federal interests, and the circumstances surrounding your actions raise serious concerns about whether they are politically motivated.” A spokesperson for Willis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Jordan is asking Willis to hand over details on any federal funds the office receives by Sept. 7, as well as communications with the Justice Department — including Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading a federal probe into Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election that’s left the former president facing four separate criminal counts.
“Given the weighty federal interests at stake, the Committee is conducting oversight of this matter to determine whether any legislative reforms are appropriate or necessary. Such reforms could include changes to the federal officer removal statute, immunities for federal officials, the permissible use of federal funds, the authorities of special counsels, and the delineation of prosecutorial authority between federal and local officials,” Jordan wrote in the letter.
The letter details a well-worn move by House Republicans, who have used their majority to investigate Trump’s prosecutors. At the same time, Jordan and other GOP committee chairs are using their investigative powers to run a sweeping inquiry into the Biden family, as they try to find an elusive link between Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings and President Joe Biden.
In the spring, House Republicans sent a similar letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg following his indictment of Trump. That GOP request asked Bragg for details on federal funding and talks with DOJ that are similar to the Thursday request of Willis, as well as closed-door interviews.
The earlier New York effort escalated to a brief legal battle between the committee and Bragg’s office as House Republicans sought testimony from Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor in Bragg’s office. But the spat quickly fizzled after Pomerantz provided testimony and as other Trump investigations have moved into the spotlight.
Republicans also fired off letters about Smith earlier this year, including a request for details on the scope of his investigation, but they didn’t fire off new investigative inquiries in the wake of the special counsel’s second Trump indictment.
Even so, some members of the right fringe of the House GOP conference are expected to use a looming government funding fight to try to defund Smith’s office and make broader, dramatic cuts to DOJ.