There will likely be 61 million tourists in NYC this year. Members of the House Judiciary Committee, numbering in the dozen, visited 26 Federal Plaza for a field trip hearing headlined “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan,” an occasion to which actual Manhattan was largely indifferent, but which will likely go down in history as one of the most memorable visits ever made to the city.
On Monday morning, before the hearings began, there was only a little audience waiting outside the building. Those demonstrating held banners calling Ohio Republican committee chairman and event host Jim Jordan a “insurrectionist” and “Trump’s errand boy.“
The congressman was in the city to protest what he and other Republicans see as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s lax approach to crime fighting; he said, “where videos of violent, senseless attacks appear almost daily, and where the D.A. of Lower Manhattan earned a reputation for caring more about the perpetrators of crime than the victims.”
Democrats were quick to label the hearing an exercise in revenge against the prosecutor who indicted the former president on 34 criminal counts earlier this month as a “junket,” “sham,” “stunt,” “MAGA Broadway production,” and a “outrageous abuse of power.”
Outside the building where the hearing was about to begin, one woman took out a piece of chalk, knelt down, and scrawled “Gym Jordan” in large letters on the street in case anyone had forgotten about the congressman’s background.
Mr. Jordan was the wrestling coach at Ohio State University in the late 1980s and early 1990s, at which time he was accused of turning a blind eye to crimes, specifically to sexual misconduct in the athletics department. This occurred five years ago. Mr. Jordan has always disputed the charges, saying that he had no idea of the mistreatment until he read about it in The Times.
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However, the chairman was very forthright in expressing his empathy for the victims of violent crimes, such as Madeline Brame, whose son was murdered in Upper Manhattan, who were called to appear before the committee.
There were a few phrases that came up so often throughout the proceedings that they could have been used as drinking games if they hadn’t all taken place before noon. Dan Goldman, who was elected to represent lower Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn last year, pointed out the antisemitic undertones of Republican references to the “Sorosization” of the criminal justice system.
For four hours, Republicans testified that New York is a lawless wasteland where violence and mayhem reign unfettered by showing viral videos from the city on local news programs throughout the country to back up their claims.
Talking in a moment with @AnaCabrera on @MSNBC about this travesty of a “field hearing.” Looks more like an attempt to distract from Trump’s troubles and intimidate an elected district attorney. https://t.co/cfJcVsIHuQ
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) April 17, 2023
The committee’s Democrats retorted that circumstances were much worse elsewhere, particularly in the towns and states from which their political opponents originated. After landing, one Republican tourist interviewed his cab driver about his fears about crime, proving that he had already internalized the reflexes of a particular kind of New Yorker, whether or not he could realize it.
Like many other police departments across the country, the New York Police Department provides the public with a weekly report on crime both citywide and by precinct, which may have prevented most of the squabbling. But then there wouldn’t have been any excitement, would there? According to the numbers, homicides in the city as a whole are down 6.6% and gunshots are down 23% from the same time the previous year.
Is there a sense that lawlessness now permeates the city more than ever before? It felt more lawless, according to Robert F. Holden, a Democrat and City Council member representing a district in Queens (which, it should be stressed, is not in Manhattan) and the sole elected official of local government asked to speak.
His Asian American wife was terrified to ride the train for fear of being the target of racism or bigotry. Her concerns are reasonable. While hate crimes have decreased by 40% citywide compared to the same period last year, they have increased in Queens, which is outside of Mr. Bragg’s authority.
Today's Judiciary Committee hearing was a shameful attempt to embarrass the Manhattan DA, and undermine Trump’s prosecution.
It didn't succeed.
Instead of showing the DA to be soft on crime, it showed Republicans soft on the rule of law, and soft on their oath of office.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 17, 2023
At roughly the 2.5-hour mark, Republican congressman Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island, where significant crimes have spiked this year, turned up to observe and offer herself to reporters. She said that one in every 67 New Yorkers was a victim of crime, and she spoke about these hazards in the overflow room outside the hearing.
When questioned if the hearing would have taken place if Trump hadn’t been indicted, Ms. Malliotakis assured it would have, adding, “This is an issue I have been pushing.” Republican committee members showed wonderful guest etiquette by calling New York a “iconic” and “great” metropolis, in contrast to the famous congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who recently visited New York from Georgia and called the city “repulsive,” “filthy,” and “disgusting.”
Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, who did not appear to be in any haste to go back to Washington on the Acela, stated that he had not come to “criticize any New Yorkers,” and that a city properly lauded for its drive and “hustle” was now threatened by rampant fear.
Republicans were repeatedly questioned if they would support increased gun control measures to prevent criminals from bringing illicit firearms into the city. It was unclear how the House Judiciary Committee planned to “save” Manhattan from the Democrats that its residents had elected.
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