House Freedom Caucus member Andrew Clyde (R-GA) said Monday he is planning to introduce two amendments to eliminate federal funding for the three prosecutors who indicted Donald Trump — Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
“Due to my serious concerns about these witch hunt indictments against President Trump, I intend to offer two amendments to prohibit any federal funds from being used in federal or state courts to prosecute major presidential candidates prior to the 2024 election,” Clyde said in a statement.
Clyde — who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — said he will likely add his amendment’s to the 2024 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriation bill that is up for consideration when Congress returns from their lengthy August recess next month.
“Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars have no place funding the radical Left’s nefarious election interference efforts,” the congressman added.
It’s the latest iteration of a shutdown-risking gambit members of the House Freedom Caucus have been flirting with since earlier this summer. Before the August recess, a handful of far-right members delayed the appropriations process by attaching riders to normal appropriations bills that fan culture war flames, like restricting abortion access for members of the military or carving out funding for gender affirming care. Only a handful of these bills passed out of committee before the congressional break. It’s unclear if enough House Republicans would support the larded up bills to pass the House, but they’re dead on arrival in the Senate.
Stuffing right-wing grievances into must-pass spending bills only further delays the appropriations process and risks a government shutdown when money runs out at the end of September. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has said that he and Democratic leadership have already discussed passing a short-term spending bill to buy himself time to get his caucus in order. But the House Freedom Caucus says it’ll oppose a stopgap bill if it doesn’t include unrelated language they demand about unspecified “woke” Pentagon policies, among other things.
The process that Clyde announced this week will toss Republicans’ ongoing attempts to punish anyone investigating Trump into this already-convoluted shutdown-risking mix.
The Georgia congressman’s targets all brought historic indictments against the former president this year. Bragg’s office has charged Trump with falsifying business records as he tried to hide the hush money he allegedly paid Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign. Smith’s two federal criminal cases are focused on Trump’s efforts to interfere with the 2020 election and the classified documents he hoarded at Mar-a-Lago. And the last and most recent indictment out of Georgia accuses Trump and 18 other co-defendants of crimes related to alleged attempts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.
House GOPers’ ongoing attempts to “defund” anyone who they say is coming after Trump is not limited to Clyde’s efforts. Republican lawmakers have been trying to use their slim majority in the House to defend Trump as his legal troubles have grown over the past couple of months.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) — who has endorsed Trump’s 2024 bid and has been actively campaigning for him — is also in the mix. She announced earlier this month that she would introduce an amendment using the Holman rule to block funding for Smith’s investigation into Trump.
Meanwhile, MAGA loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is pushing to cut off funding for Smith’s office. And Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) has introduced two House bills that would block all federal grant funding from Bragg and Willis’ offices.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) has also been active in using the GOP majority and their subpoena power to come after the prosecutors. Most recently, in an effort to poke holes in Willis’ credibility, Jordan announced they opened an investigation into the Fulton County DA.
But all the shenanigans are part of a broader interest in defending Trump as, according to NBC News, a government shutdown wouldn’t stop the criminal proceedings against the former president.
Trump’s indictments in New York and Georgia would not be affected by a government shutdown as they are not federal cases. And the two federal cases filed by the DOJ and Smith’s team are criminal matters, which have been exempt from shutdowns in the past.
“Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property,” the DOJ wrote in a September 2021 memo detailing a contingency plan in case of a shutdown.