NEW YORK — New York Democrats condemned the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee’s hearing in Manhattan on Monday as an attempt to undermine the credibility of the district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump.
They blasted the proceedings as a political stunt while also defending New York’s crime rates.
“I think it’s the highest level of hypocrisy,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on MSNBC.
He later told reporters outside the hearing: “It is really troubling that Americans’ taxpayer dollars are being used to come here on this junket to do an examination of the safest big city in America.”
A rowdy crowd of anti-Trump protestors demanded to be let inside the federal building in lower Manhattan as the committee heard testimony from a formerly incarcerated bodega clerk and the mother of a homicide victim, among others who testified.
The hearing — titled “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan” — was called by the committee in the wake of the arraignment of the former president, who, ever since being criminally indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan, has attacked Alvin Bragg, the district attorney leading the case, for not addressing local crime instead.
His GOP allies have leveled similar criticisms. Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the committee, called New York a “city that has lost its way” during the hearing.
“Here in Manhattan, the scales of justice are weighed down by politics,” Jordan later added during the hearing, accusing Bragg of taking a “soft-on-crime approach to the real criminals.”
The mayor and other Democrats were quick to point out Monday that crime in many major categories is on the decline. A letter sent to Jordan last week cited recently released NYPD statistics showing murders are down roughly a tenth from at this time last year. Shootings and transit crimes have decreased, too.
The full picture of crime statistics in New York is more of a mixed bag, though. Felony assaults are up, driven largely by domestic incidents and attacks on police officers, and major felony arrests are at a high not seen in more than two decades.
Adams also pointed to data reported in the New York Daily News Monday morning suggesting that residents of Jordan’s home state of Ohio are far more likely to die from gun violence than New Yorkers.
Wirepoints, an Illinois-based nonprofit, found in February that New York City had among the lowest homicide rates among the nation’s largest cities.
Adams said neither he nor anyone from his administration was asked to speak.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who represents New York’s 13th District, also took issue with Republicans on the committee criticizing crime in the state without backing stronger federal gun control legislation.
“The common denominator in most homicides across the country is a gun,” he said during the hearing.
The GOP’s embrace of the issue of crime in their attacks against Bragg — and the other side’s full-throated response — is indicative of just how salient the issue remains in New York politics, and of its soreness for Democrats in the wake of midterm losses and a much closer than anticipated gubernatorial race. Even public safety-focused Democrats like Adams have struggled to make voters think they’re making headway on the issue.
Manhattan Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, a former chair of the committee, warned voters not to be “fooled.”
“This hearing is being called for one reason and one reason only: to protect Donald Trump,” he said at the news conference with Adams.