House Republicans’ NYC violent crime hearing was political theater 2023

On Monday, I bravely took a taxi from my Upper West Side condo to the East Side through Central Park.

A dystopian nightmare. Manhattan’s crosstown traffic is awful.

The field-tripping House Judiciary Committee began a hearing on Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg at 9 a.m. in a federal building downtown, just blocks from the courthouse where Donald Trump was arraigned.

“For the district attorney, justice isn’t blind, it’s about looking for opportunities to advance… a radical political agenda,” said jacketless committee chairman Jim Jordan in his apocalyptic opening remarks. Instead of upholding the law, the D.A. serves left-wing political financiers.”

Naturally, Bragg indicted Trump. Bragg also received aid in his 2021 election campaign from an organization partially backed by George Soros, who in GOP demonology stands between Satan and Hillary Clinton.

Attacking Bragg was clearly retaliation for seeking felony charges against the former president, but committee Republicans denied it with Trump’s “perfect” phone conversation.

“Look no further than the last November election when we flipped four congressional seats [in New York State],” House GOP leader Elise Stefanik said, revealing the rest of Monday’s agenda. The biggest issue? It was criminal.”

However, committee Republicans encountered two issues with the over-hyped production that might have been predicted before they left Washington.

It was hard to form a Bragg narrative with Democrats actively engaged in the hearing and committee members limited to five minutes each inquiry. Fox News occasionally covered the hearing.

Facts conspired against Jordan, Stefanik, and Co.

Felonies in New York City have increased by 45 percent since 2021, but they have dropped somewhat in Manhattan this year.

New York crime started low. While the percentage rise seems alarming, New York’s per capita crime rates are only one-third of Columbus, Ohio’s. Jordan’s 4th Congressional District borders Ohio’s capitol.

Committee Democrats emphasized this argument, but criminal specifics also tripped up Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy.

Roy boasted that New York had over 2,000 murders a year in the early 1990s, praising Rudy Giuliani’s mayorship. Roy remarked, “It got down to 288 in 2018.”

“But now,” Roy warned, “it’s back up to the mid-400s. Is New York City safe right now?

New York is safer than the 1990s. Roy’s numbers—even if they were used for drama—emphasized that.

If Monday’s session had been about fact-finding rather than politics, witnesses would have explored the challenges of determining crime rate causality. The 1990s crime drop is still debated among experts.

Violence epidemic
However, the overheated Republican narrative blamed Bragg for everything in New York, even the Broadway demise of “Phantom of the Opera” after 35 years.

“Mr. Bragg, I hope you’re watching…. You’re shameful. You’re a national threat.”

During his five-minute outburst, former Fort Bend County sheriff Nehls didn’t explain why Bragg threatens him. It involves police defunding and “the dishonest media is the greatest threat to this country.”

The hearing was complicated because many of the atrocities the witnesses lamented happened before Bragg became district attorney. Queens has a non-Bragg district attorney, Melinda Katz, and the primary political witness, Robert Holden, is a city councillor.

The Republicans’ portrayal of Manhattan as more hazardous than Ukraine’s battle lines had one advantage. New York is tabloid central. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post and its TV imitators still follow “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Even in a metropolis of 8.3 million people, horrific atrocities occur. Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson asserted, “We have a violent crime epidemic here — and everybody in America knows it because we see the videos played out on our television local news every single night.”

Johnson may not have realized that TV networks highlight tales from their home cities, which is why Shreveport news stations often feature New York crime stories.

Despite Republican fireworks, Monday’s hearing likely helped Bragg in 2025. I think Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney Fani Willis will prosecute Trump for illegally seeking to overturn the 2020 election because she fears a visit from Jim Jordan and the Judiciary Committee.

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