A Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee plans to use the upcoming battle over the 2024 budget to push for defunding the ongoing legal prosecutions of former president Donald Trump.
Rep. Andrew Clyde, a former military officer and gun dealer from north Georgia who is a member of both the Republican Study Committee and the Freedom Caucus, announced Monday that he is working on a pair of amendments that would “prohibit the use of federal funding for the prosecution of any major presidential candidate prior to the upcoming presidential election on November 5th, 2024.”
The first of the proposed amendments to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill – one of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024 that Congress will attempt to pass this fall – would prohibit the use of federal funds for federal prosecutions, while the second would apply to state prosecutions. In a statement, Clyde’s office said the bills would effectively “defund Special Counsel Jack Smith, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ prosecutorial authority.”
Smith has brought two cases against Trump, one pertaining to the retention of classified documents and another relating to the former president’s involvement in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. (On Monday, a federal judge set a trial date of March 4, 2024, in the latter case.) Bragg has brought a case against Trump for his 2016 hush payments to a pornographic film star, Stormy Daniels, while Willis has charged Trump with election interference in Georgia.
Clyde made it clear that he sees those cases as the illegitimate products of corrupt “Deep State” actors. “Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars have no place funding the radical Left’s nefarious election interference efforts,” he said. “Together, Jack Smith, Alvin Bragg, and Fani Willis intentionally brought four sham indictments against the sitting president’s top political opponent, President Donald J. Trump, as the upcoming 2024 presidential election ramps up. These bogus charges are undoubtedly intended to smear and take down President Trump, as well as hinder his ability to campaign effectively.”
Clyde called on his fellow lawmakers to join him in using the budget process to achieve his goals. “It is imperative that Congress use its power of the purse to protect the integrity of our elections, restore Americans’ faith in our government, and dismantle our nation’s two-tiered system of justice,” he said. “I’m fully committed to helping lead this effort, and I call on my House Appropriations colleagues to join me in this righteous fight.”
As The Hill’s Emily Brooks reports, Clyde is not the only Republican lawmaker planning to use the appropriations process to help Trump. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has said she plans to introduce a bill defunding Smith’s office, echoing legislation already introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. And Rep. Andy Ogles from Tennessee has introduced a bill that would prohibit Smith from receiving a federal salary.
The bottom line: The push by Republican hardliners to shield Trump from criminal charges is unlikely to succeed given Democratic control of the Senate and the White House, but it highlights the potential for conflict as lawmakers turn to the 2024 budget in September.