Nadler Opening Statement for Field Hearing on “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan”
New York, NY, April 17, 2023
New York, NY—House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler today delivered the follow remarks, as prepared, at a field hearing in New York City on “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan”:
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
"Let me be very clear. We are here today in lower Manhattan for one reason, and one reason only: the Chairman is doing the bidding of Donald Trump.
"Committee Republicans designed this hearing to intimidate and deter the duly elected District Attorney of Manhattan from doing the work his constituents elected him to do. They have demanded access to the inner workings of an ongoing criminal case, information to which they know they are not entitled. They have subpoenaed a witness who used to work for the District Attorney, whom they know cannot answer their questions—and they have earned a lawsuit that risks future congressional oversight as a result.
"They have perpetuated the anti-Semitic and racist tropes that Mr. Trump has directed at both the prosecutor and the judge in this case.
"They are using their public offices, and the resources of this Committee, to protect their political patron, Donald Trump. It is an outrageous abuse of power. It is—to use the Chairman’s favorite term—a weaponization of the House Judiciary Committee.
"I do not know if Mr. Trump will be found guilty by a jury of his peers here in New York—or, for that matter, in Georgia or in Washington, DC on charges that may follow—but I do know that he will have his day in court.
"Using this Committee to undermine that process as it unfolds is cynical, unethical, and—given the violence unleashed on the Capitol by the former President—just plain dangerous.
"Now, we all grieve for the victims of violent crime, here in Manhattan and everywhere.
"But it is shameful that the Republicans on this Committee would use the pretext of violent crime as an excuse to play tourist in New York and bully the District Attorney.
"And it is particularly disgraceful that they would use this pretext after doing nothing—nothing—to stop the gun violence that terrorizes our nation.
"According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 146 mass shootings this year alone. That means there have been more mass shootings than days so far this year.
"Three people were shot dead and five others injured at Michigan State University. Three children and three teachers were shot and killed at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee. Five people are dead and eight others, including two police officers, are injured after a mass shooting at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky.
"These tragedies have taken place in nearly every corner of our nation—although I note, in a study by Everytown, that in states where elected officials have taken action to pass gun safety laws, dramatically fewer people die by gun violence.
"And although there has not, thank G-d, been a recent mass shooting here in Manhattan, we must do more to stem the iron pipeline—the illicit flow of illegal firearms from states that do less to protect their citizens to New York and elsewhere.
"Unlike our Republican colleagues, Democrats have consistently advanced policies that make all of our communities, including New York, safer places to live, to work, to worship, and to go to school.
"Last Congress, over the objection of every Republican here today, we passed the first gun violence prevention package in decades. We can and must do more. We must pass universal background checks. We must implement red flag laws to keep guns away from those who are a danger to themselves and others. And we must reinstate the assault weapons ban. Each of these proposals are overwhelmingly popular with the American public—and each is opposed by House Republicans.
"We also advanced the VICTIM Act, to provide funding to law enforcement to improve murder clearance rates. If my Republican colleagues were serious about violent crime and sincere in their support for law enforcement, they would have joined us in that effort—but 178 Republicans opposed that measure last Congress on the House floor.
"We supported legislation to improve policing through additional funding, better training, and accountability to strengthen public trust, because we know that public safety requires law enforcement agencies and their community partners working together. Again, every Republican on the Committee stood opposed.
"Here in New York—one of the largest and most complex cities in the world—local leaders have pursued violence intervention, diversion programs, targeted law enforcement, and youth engagement programs that have pushed crime and incarceration to the lowest rates in decades.
"Over the past year, under the leadership of Mayor Adams and District Attorney Bragg, crime in Manhattan has dropped in nearly every major category—including murders, down 14%; shootings, down 17%; burglaries, down 21%; and robberies, down 8%.
"And on the specific topic of gun violence, the District Attorney is to be commended for securing indictments against gun traffickers, ghost gun manufacturers, and other violent criminals, leading to a full twenty percent reduction in shootings last year.
"The Chairman says this hearing is about violent crime in Manhattan—but New York remains one of the safest big cities in America. I am sure my colleagues have talking points and anecdotes to the contrary, but the evidence is firmly on our side.
"And the evidence shows, unfortunately, that the Chairman could have held this hearing back in Washington or in Ohio or in any other jurisdiction where the numbers are trending in the wrong direction—but, instead, he rushed to hold a hearing here in Manhattan in defense of Donald Trump.
"I understand that, in the days leading up to this hearing, Republican members were instructed not to speak about Mr. Trump during these proceedings. “Don’t take the bait,” they were warned, as if we cannot draw a straight line from the Chairman’s attacks on the District Attorney in the wake of the indictment to his attacks on the District Attorney here today.
"We know better. We all know better. The New Yorkers gathered outside of this building certainly know better. You can pretend that you aren’t here on Donald Trump’s behalf, but you cannot stop the New York criminal justice system from running its course—and you will not intimidate New Yorkers with your brief visit to our city.
"I thank the Chairman, and I yield back."