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DOJ says no contacts between senior officials and Manhattan DA Bragg about Trump case

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(WASHINGTON) — An extensive search of Justice Department records uncovered no contacts between senior DOJ officials and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office relating to their state prosecution of former President Donald Trump, a top department official informed House Republicans in a letter Tuesday.

“The Department does not generally make extensive efforts to rebut conspiratorial speculation, including to avoid the risk of lending it credibility,” assistant attorney general Carlos Uriarte said in the letter to the House Judiciary Committee. “However, consistent with the Attorney General’s commitment to transparency, the Department has taken extraordinary steps to confirm what was already clear: there is no basis for these false claims.”

Since Trump’s conviction in the Manhattan DA’s case last month, House Republicans have attempted in various ways to tie his investigation to the Justice Department and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has called Bragg to testify.

In a hearing last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland repeatedly rebuked the allegations as baseless and dangerous, pointing to an uptick in threats department officials have seen directly stemming from such conspiracy theories.

Republicans specifically pointed to a former top DOJ official, Matthew Colangelo, who departed the department in December 2022 and later joined Bragg’s prosecution team.

In the letter Tuesday, DOJ said their search included Colangelo’s email account and “did not identify any instances of Mr. Colangelo having email communications with the District Attorney’s office during his time at the Department.”

“Department leadership did not dispatch Mr. Colangelo to the District Attorney’s office, and Department leadership was unaware of his work on the investigation and prosecution involving the former President until it was reported in the news,” Uriarte said.

The letter further notes that any interaction DOJ had with the case was already a matter of public record well before Trump’s conviction at trial — both former President Trump’s legal team and DA Bragg’s office requested documents from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office which were produced under a protective order.

“In any event, information-sharing between a U.S. Attorney’s Office and local prosecutors is standard and happens every day all over the country,” Uriarte said.

The letter comes as Republicans set the stage for a full House vote this week to hold Garland in contempt for refusing to turn over audio recordings of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur.

In stern language rebuking their efforts to undermine the department, Uriarte echoes language from Garland’s appearance before the committee last week, as well as a Washington Post op-ed by Garland out Tuesday morning.

“The self-justifying “perception” asserted by the Committee is completely baseless, but the Committee continues to traffic it widely,” Uriarte said. “As the Attorney General stated at his hearing, 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. Indeed, accusations of wrongdoing made without—and in fact contrary to—evidence undermine confidence in the justice system and have contributed to increased threats of violence and attacks on career law enforcement officials and prosecutors.”

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