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Outrage Erupts as DOJ Declines Intervention in Trump Prosecution: FEC Commissioner Reacts

Summary: FEC Commissioner Trey Trainor criticizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) for not intervening in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump. Trainor argues that the DOJ’s inaction sets a dangerous precedent of local prosecutorial overreach in federal matters and that the DOJ’s earlier involvement could have prevented Trump’s trial from becoming a major focus of the 2024 election. Trainor, along with other experts, stresses that federal campaign finance law enforcement is the jurisdiction of the DOJ and the FEC, not local prosecutors.


In a heated debate over the legal and political implications of prosecuting former President Donald Trump, Republican FEC Commissioner Trey Trainor has taken a firm stance against the Department of Justice (DOJ). On Thursday, Trainor is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, voicing his concerns over the DOJ’s “dangerous” decision not to intervene in the prosecution led by Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trainor’s testimony highlights a critical issue: the DOJ’s reluctance to step in and assert its authority in what he views as a clear case of local prosecutorial overreach into federal matters. He argues that Bragg’s attempt to enforce federal campaign finance laws not only oversteps local jurisdiction but also creates a troubling precedent for future cases.

The core of Trainor’s argument centers on the notion that the Biden DOJ should have intervened when Bragg, a local prosecutor, sought to enforce federal campaign finance law. This lack of intervention, Trainor asserts, has amplified the significance of Trump’s trial, making it a central issue in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

“The fact that U.S. Supreme Court precedent is so decidedly in favor of jealously guarding the ability of federal agencies to enforce federal law leaves us to wonder why Attorney General Merrick Garland and the DOJ did not intervene in the prosecution of Donald Trump,” Trainor states in his written testimony. He further posits that an early DOJ intervention would have protected the jurisdiction of federal authorities, thus preventing the trial from dominating the election discourse.

Trainor is not alone in his criticism. Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and law professor Elizabeth Foley are also expected to testify, bringing additional perspectives to the committee. The controversy began when a Manhattan jury convicted Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to reimbursements made to Michael Cohen for a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels. To elevate these charges to felonies, Bragg alleged that the falsifications were meant to conceal or commit another crime, such as influencing the 2016 election unlawfully.

Trainor’s testimony delves into the DOJ’s previous involvement in investigating the $130,000 payment, highlighting unredacted FEC documents that reveal the DOJ’s extensive knowledge of the case. Despite their investigation, no crimes were found against Trump, which raises questions about Bragg’s subsequent prosecution.

The FEC had previously deadlocked on pursuing a case against Trump regarding the nondisclosure agreement, with Republican commissioners voting to dismiss it as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. This decision was met with strong opposition from Democratic commissioners, who argued there was no other route for holding Trump accountable.

Legal experts supporting Trainor’s viewpoint emphasize that federal campaign finance law enforcement lies with the DOJ and the FEC, not local prosecutors like Bragg. Hans von Spakovsky from the Heritage Foundation and Daniel Epstein from America First Legal both underscore that the FEC has primary oversight of political contributions and expenditures, as established by the Supreme Court in its 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision.

Epstein further elaborates that Bragg’s actions violate public rights granted to U.S. citizens, as his enforcement scheme circumvents the oversight mechanisms provided by federal law. The Supreme Court’s ruling in South Carolina v. Katzenbach reaffirms that only the Attorney General can enforce federal election laws criminally.

Trainor’s forthcoming testimony is expected to shed light on these intricate legal arguments and the broader implications of the DOJ’s inaction. As the debate continues, it remains clear that the intersection of local prosecution and federal jurisdiction will be a contentious issue, especially as the 2024 presidential election approaches.

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