House Judiciary Committee holds 'Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan' hearing in NYC

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Monday, April 17, 2023
House Judiciary Committee holds hearing in Manhattan
The House of Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing in New York City called "Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan" to embarrass DA Alvin Bragg. Darla Miles has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Republicans upset with Donald Trump's indictment are escalating their war on the prosecutor who charged him, trying to embarrass Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on his home turf partly by falsely portraying New York City as a place overrun by crime.

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, held a four-hour field hearing Monday near Bragg's offices to examine the Democrat's "pro-crime, anti-victim" policies.

New York City has "lost its way when it comes to fighting crime and upholding the law," Jordan said. "Here in Manhattan, the scales of justice are weighed down by politics. For the district attorney justice isn't blind - it's about advancing opportunities to promote a political agenda - a radical political agenda."

Democrats said the hearing was a partisan stunt aimed at amplifying conservative anger at Bragg, Manhattan's first Black district attorney.

Before it began, Mayor Eric Adams and Congressman Jerry Nadler held a press conference about gun violence. They also called it a stunt hearing.

"It is really troubling that American taxpayers' dollars are being used to come here on this junket to do an examination of the safest big city in America instead of focusing on the real over-proliferation of guns that we have witnessed," said Adams, a Democrat and former police captain.

The House Judiciary Committee didn't invite Bragg to testify, nor was anyone from his office expected to participate. Adams said he was also not asked to testify or participate.

Bragg's history with Trump

Interrupted several times by outbursts from protesters, Monday's hearing was the latest salvo in Jordan's weekslong effort to use his congressional powers to defend Trump from what he says is a politically motivated prosecution.

Bragg just charged Former President Trump, a close ally of Jordan's, with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Jordan has sent letters to Bragg demanding testimony and documents, claiming Bragg's office is subject to congressional scrutiny because it gets federal grants. He subpoenaed a former prosecutor, Mark Pomerantz, who previously oversaw the Trump investigation. Bragg then sued Jordan, calling the subpoena a "transparent campaign to intimidate" him.

Pomerantz said in court papers Monday that the subpoena leaves him in an "impossible position" and, if enforced, will require him to violate his ethical obligations or risk being held in contempt of Congress if he refuses. A federal judge scheduled an initial hearing for Wednesday.

Witnesses speak out

Democrats maintain Monday's hearing is revenge for the prosecution of Trump, but no matter the reason, victims of crime were eager to be heard.

The witnesses at Monday's hearing that testified included advocates for victims rights and Jose Alba, a bodega worker who was charged with murder in a killing that was later ruled self-defense, and the charges were dropped.

"Even though the charges were ultimately dropped, they should not have been brought against me to begin with," he said through an interpreter.

"There is shoplifting, there's boosting, there's assaults, there's rapes, there's a nonstop crime. You look on 57th Street alone from east to west, it's become a danger zone," said Curtis Sliwa, former candidate for NYC Mayor, and head of the Guardian Angels.

Madeline Brame did not hold back her disdain for DA Bragg. She's angry that after her son, Army Veteran Hassan Correa, was murdered in Harlem and when Bragg's office took over the case, decided the evidence was not sufficient and downgraded the charges.

"He dismissed, completely dismissed gang assault and murder indictments against two defendants clearly on video participating in the brutal, savage slaughter of my son," she said. "We were treated like garbage! Like garbage!"

Jennifer Harrison - whose boyfriend was killed in New Jersey in 2005, outside Bragg's jurisdiction and long before he took office - spoke as a victim advocate and Bragg critic.

Bragg campaigned on finding alternatives to jail time, even refusing to prosecute crimes like trespassing, fare evasion, prostitution, and downgrading other more serious offenses.

"Serious offenses such as knifepoint robberies, commercial and residential burglaries, weapons possession, and low-level drug dealing are being charged with lesser offenses," NYC Councilman Robert Holden said.

Outside, Democrats said it was Republicans who were the ones truly soft on crime.

"If they actually cared about combating violent crime, they would do something about it. They'd have to acknowledge that weak federal and state laws are responsible for the majority of crime guns trafficked into New York," said Diane Rinaldo, Moms Demand Action.

Crime stats in NYC

Attacking New York City and its mostly Democratic leaders over crime is an old trick for politicians who represent rural and suburban districts, and the punch can still land with some audiences.

But in reality, the city's violent crime rate remains substantially below the U.S. average.

In 2022, Bragg's first year in office, there were 78 homicides in Manhattan, a borough of 1.6 million people. That was a drop of 15 percent from the year before. Palm Beach County, Florida, where Trump is one of about 1.5 million residents, had 96 killings.

"This is really ridiculous, particularly when you do an analysis of the congressional district of Jim Jordan. You'll see that crime is actually higher in his district, per capita," Mayor Adams said.

The murder rate per capita in Ohio's largest city of Columbus is three times as high compared to New York City.

In a televised interview, Jordan said that New York was only the first stop in these hearings.

"We anticipate going to other big cities where it is just as bad," Jordan said, speculating Chicago could be next.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

READ ALSO| Breaking down Alvin Bragg's lawsuit against Jim Jordan

In this edition of 'Eyewitness News Extra Time,' we break down the lawsuit Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg filed against Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan.


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