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DOJ hits back at GOP speculation about coordination with Manhattan DA on Trump probe

The Justice Department is moving to neutralize lingering GOP questions about any contact between the DOJ and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office on any Trump case, calling it “conspiratorial speculation.”

Carlos Uriarte, an assistant attorney general at Justice, sent a letter to House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) late Monday night disclosing that the DOJ had conducted a search for any emails between any officials in DOJ leadership and Bragg’s office about an investigation into or prosecution of former President Donald Trump and found nothing.

“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. The Department has no control over the District Attorney, just as the District Attorney has no control over the Department. The Committee knows this,” Uriarte wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO.

As part of the search, the DOJ also looked for any communications between an email account that belonged to Matthew Colangelo, a former Justice Department official who now works for Bragg, and the Manhattan DA’s office from his time at the DOJ and found none. The Justice Department, Uriarte added, “did not dispatch” Colangelo to Bragg’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.”

Asked about the DOJ letter, Russell Dye, a Judiciary spokesperson, said that committee Republicans are “weighing all options” for potential next steps.

Uriarte’s letter comes as House Republicans are in a multi-pronged standoff with both the Justice Department and Bragg. House Republicans are poised to bring a contempt resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland to the floor Wednesday after he refused to turn over audio of former special counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Joe Biden. Garland did turn over the transcript, but the DOJ raised concerns that sharing the audio would negatively impact future investigations.

House Judiciary Republicans questioned Garland during testimony last week on if there was any communication between Bragg’s office and the DOJ about the Trump investigation. They also repeatedly raised why Colangelo would leave the DOJ and work for Bragg. Garland repeatedly told Republicans that the DOJ doesn’t direct Bragg’s office, and that they didn’t send Colangelo to the Manhattan DA’s office.

Uriarte, in his letter, criticized Republicans for continuing to raise the theories, which have percolated in conservative circles for months, calling them “baseless” and warning they undermined the justice system.

“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,” he wrote.

Jordan has also invited Colangelo and Bragg to testify this week before his subcommittee investigating GOP claims of “weaponization” within the federal government. The invite came one day after Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts as part of a hush money case. Bragg’s office, in a letter to Jordan on Friday, said there were scheduling conflicts with the originally pitched date of June 13, but asked them to negotiate a new date.