'Put it to rest': DOJ shoots down House Republican conspiracy that it controlled Trump NY case

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice Building on March 21, 2024 in Washington, DC. 

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The Department of Justice blasted House Republicans for spreading the “completely baseless” claim that the federal agency was behind the New York hush money trial of former President Donald Trump.

“The conspiracy theory that the recent jury verdict in New York state court was somehow controlled by the Department is not only false, it is irresponsible,” assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte told House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in a letter obtained by CNBC.

The fiery reply to the high-ranking lawmaker was just one thrust in a multipronged effort by the DOJ to refute conspiracies about Trump’s historic conviction by a Manhattan Supreme Court jury on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is actively stoking the claim that his rival, President Joe Biden, directed the state-level case, as well as the dozens of other criminal charges he faces in three separate courts.

But Uriarte said there is no evidence showing any coordination between the federal government and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the hush money case against Trump.

The DOJ conducted a “comprehensive” search for communications between its leaders and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office about any investigation or prosecution of Trump from Jan. 20, 2021, through his May 30 conviction in New York, Uriarte said.

“We found none,” Uriarte said. “This is unsurprising.”

“The District Attorney’s office is a separate entity from the Department. The Department does not supervise the work of the District Attorney’s office, does not approve its charging decisions, and does not try its cases,” he said. “The Department has no control over the District Attorney, just as the District Attorney has no control over the Department.”

The Judiciary panel “knows this,” Uriarte added.

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Jordan in an April 30 letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland had asked for information about a former DOJ official, Matthew Colangelo, who had been tapped to help lead Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of Trump in the hush money case.

Jordan said that Colangelo’s involvement in the case “only adds to the perception that the Biden Justice Department is politicized and weaponized.”

But Uriarte shot back that Colangelo’s email account showed no communications with the DA’s office during his tenure at the Justice Department.

“The self-justifying ‘perception’ asserted by the Committee is completely baseless, but the Committee continues to traffic it widely,” he wrote.

“Our extraordinary efforts to respond to your speculation should put it to rest.”

Spokespeople for Jordan and the Judiciary panel’s ranking member Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment on Uriarte’s letter.

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Garland has also tried to push back on the conspiracies, which he says have helped create an environment in which the DOJ is “under attack like never before.”

The attacks include “conspiracy theories crafted and spread for the purpose of undermining public trust in the judicial process itself,” Garland said in a Washington Post op-ed published Tuesday.

“Those include false claims that a case brought by a local district attorney and resolved by a jury verdict in a state trial was somehow controlled by the Justice Department.”

The op-ed echoed what Garland told Judiciary members face-to-face in a recent hearing: that the false conspiracy claims about Trump’s trial are “an attack on the judicial process itself.”

A Punchbowl News reporter said Tuesday morning that Bragg and Colangelo would testify before the Judiciary panel July 12.

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