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House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are exemplifying the lengths they are willing to go to discredit Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal case against former President Donald Trump with a Monday New York field hearing on Bragg’s home turf.

House Republicans are seeking to make the case that Bragg is more focused on going after Trump for political reasons than addressing crime in New York City, a claim Bragg vehemently denies.

Democrats are pushing back, arguing that Republicans are acting as an extension of Trump’s defense team and saying they should focus instead on public safety issues like gun violence. A spokesperson for the Manhattan DA’s office said in a statement ahead of the hearing that the event is a “political stunt.”

The hearing, billed as focusing on crime in New York, comes as the legal drama between Bragg and House Republicans has intensified in recent days. Bragg sued House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan and sought to block him from taking certain investigative steps, arguing that Congress doesn’t have oversight authority over state-level criminal prosecutions.

It serves as the latest example of how Trump continues to wield enormous power on Capitol Hill as House Republicans seek to curry favor with the former president, coming to his defense through their investigations and routinely updating him and his closest advisers on their progress. In the wake of his indictment, Trump called up members of House GOP leadership and key committee members to shore up support on Capitol Hill, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan opened Monday’s hearing by going after Bragg for being “soft on crime.”

“Here in Manhattan, the scales of justice are weighed down by politics. For the District Attorney, justice isn’t blind. It’s about looking for opportunities to advance a political agenda, a radical political agenda rather than enforcing the law,” Jordan said in his opening remarks.

Despite the claims from top Republicans, Manhattan’s current levels of both violent crime in general and murder in particular are down significantly from the record levels of the early 1990s.

While there was an uptick in many types of crime in Manhattan in 2022 compared to 2021, a number of crimes have come back down significantly in 2023. Bragg took office as Manhattan DA in 2022.

Monday’s hearing will be the first in a series of field hearings focusing on crime in Democratic-run cities, a source familiar with Republicans’ plans told CNN.

Democrats, meanwhile, will argue at the hearing that if Republicans truly cared about violent crime, they would not have held the hearing in Manhattan, where crime is lower compared with other New York City boroughs, and, beyond that, would be focusing on crime in rural areas, a source familiar with Democrats’ plans tells CNN.

Committee Democrats will also try to pivot the conversation to gun violence, the source added, and argue that Republicans have refused to work on gun legislation even though mass shootings continue to ravage the country. Prior to the hearing, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary panel, and gun safety advocates held a news conference.

Nadler said ahead of the hearing, “this hearing is being called for one reason, and one reason only: to protect Donald Trump.”

“Jim Jordan and his Republican accomplices are acting as an extension of the Trump defense team … that is an outrageous abuse of power” Nadler said.

Monday’s event marks the first time that Democrats on the committee have joined a field hearing in this session of Congress.

Both sides also lobbied to get additional members added to the hearing, a standard practice, but a move that underscores each party’s desire to bring in additional voices to help articulate their respective message. Judiciary Republicans added to their side of the dais House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, who represents a district in upstate New York.

“I look forward to holding Democrats accountable for their failure to prosecute crimes and instead engage in illegal political witch-hunts against their political opponents,” Stefanik said in a statement to CNN. The New York Republican is among the GOP lawmakers in contact with Trump since he was indicted, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

New York Democratic Reps. Dan Goldman and Adriano Espaillat will also join Monday’s field hearing. In a joint statement, the pair argued that through this hearing Republicans are trying to “interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation.”

The witnesses

Witnesses at the field hearing underscored the larger arguments each party has been seeking to make.

Many of the witnesses called by Republicans spoke first-hand about the crime and violence they have experienced in New York as they criticized Bragg for not prosecuting crimes aggressively enough.

Those called by House Democrats pointed to statistics that show crime in New York City is declining, argued that Republicans do not want to address gun legislation, and claimed that Republicans are holding the hearing for political purposes.

A Democratic member of the New York City Council called by Republicans on the panel, Robert F. Holden, said, “71 years I’ve lived here in New York City. I’ve seen bad times, high crimes … I’ve not seen the lawlessness that I’m seeing today in New York City in my lifetime.”

A number of witnesses called by the Republican side criticized Bragg for a memo he released early in his tenure – some of which has since been revised – that instructed prosecutors to avoid seeking jail time for a number of serious crimes.

The Founder of Victims Rights NY, Jennifer Harrison, said, “from day one, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced he would not prosecute even very violent crimes in his now infamous memo. We saw an immediate result.”

Meanwhile, in a line of questioning led by Nadler, Third Way’s Executive Vice President for Policy, Jim Kessler, outlined how the crime rate in New York City is less than the national average and even less than Ohio, where Jordan lives.

As a result, Democratic Rep. David Cicilline made a request to move Monday’s hearing to Ohio, which was quickly rejected.

Executive Director for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Rebecca Fischer, called by the Democrats, argued that gun violence in New York was the result of the lack of action on a national level.

“The national gun trafficking crisis is largely the result of weak gun laws in other states, and the fact that Congress has not enacted federal gun violence prevention reforms” Fischer said.

Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, meanwhile, began her questioning by calling out violent crime but saying that Congress does not have jurisdiction over crime in New York.

“Let me just say all of us on this committee, no matter our party, are opposed to crime and all of us have sympathy for victims of crime” Lofgren said. “But I will say also that we don’t have jurisdiction. The federal government does not have jurisdiction over state and local prosecutions. That’s up to the voters of each state and each locality.”

Bragg has pushed back on the GOP’s efforts to investigate his criminal probe, claiming in his lawsuit, “Congress lacks any valid legislative purpose to engage in a free-ranging campaign of harassment in retaliation for the District Attorney’s investigation and prosecution of Mr. Trump under the laws of New York.”

The district attorney also took aim at Republicans for interfering in an ongoing criminal case, writing that “rather than allowing the criminal process to proceed in the ordinary course, Chairman Jordan and the Committee are participating in a campaign of intimidation, retaliation, and obstruction.”

Bragg asked the court to block the Judiciary committee’s subpoena for testimony from a former senior prosecutor in his office, Mark Pomerantz. Pomerantz resigned from the DA’s office in 2022, after Bragg said he wasn’t prepared to move forward with criminal charges against Trump. Pomerantz, in his resignation letter, said Trump was “guilty of numerous felony violations” related to his annual financial statements.

House Republicans urged a federal judge to reject the Manhattan district attorney’s office request to block a subpoena for testimony from a former prosecutor, saying such a move would impede their own investigation.

Lawyers for Jordan also argue they are immune from Bragg’s lawsuit under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution which protects lawmakers from being sued for actions stemming from their legislative actions.

Jordan has also demanded documents and testimony from Bragg, as well as information from another former prosecutor from his office, as part of Jordan’s congressional probe. The engagement from Bragg’s office has so far staved off a congressional subpoena for now.

Republicans have seized on Pomerantz’s previous comments as a sign that the 34 felony criminal charges brought against Trump this year in Manhattan were politically motivated. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

The question around Bragg’s use of federal funds

House Republicans have made the Manhattan District Attorney’s office use of federal funds the crux of their justification for why they have jurisdiction over Bragg’s case.

Bragg’s office disclosed in a recent letter that out of the more than one billion dollars in asset forfeiture funds it helped the federal government secure, approximately $5,000 was spent on expenses relating to Trump or the Trump organization between October 2019 and August 2021, but maintains that no federal grant money was used toward expenses in the Trump investigation.

Republicans have seized on this revelation, and have already started introducing legislation pertaining to Bragg.

House GOP Rep. Russell Fry of South Carolina introduced legislation in the House last week that would allow former and current presidents and vice presidents the ability to move their own criminal or civil cases from state court to a federal court. GOP Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona introduced a pair of bills, one of which would defund the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

In his lawsuit, Bragg claimed House Republicans have “manufactured new supposed legislative objectives.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Kara Scannell contributed.