Interviews & Profiles

Dan Goldman is going to mat for Alvin Bragg

The freshman Congress member talked with City & State about pickleball, bagels and his millions.

Rep. Dan Goldman, right, has said Rep. Jim Jordan's (left) hearing on Alvin Bragg is not welcome in his district.

Rep. Dan Goldman, right, has said Rep. Jim Jordan's (left) hearing on Alvin Bragg is not welcome in his district. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

No, Donald Trump’s supporters did not Tonya Harding Rep. Dan Goldman’s leg. He’s wearing a walking boot because he tore his calf playing pickleball with his wife. “Fastest growing sport,” he says.

Goldman knows what’s hot. As a former federal prosecutor, who also served as Democrats’ lead counsel for the first impeachment of Donald Trump, he has become a constant talking head on both the former president’s legal woes, and the lies of his fellow first year member of Congress from New York City, Rep. George Santos. He’s also become the talk of Capitol Hill, for his bipartisan bagel brunches (Some would say they’re his duty, since the 10th Congressional District includes Lower Manhattan and parts of northern Brooklyn).

But there’s a lot more to ask Goldman about, like how he’s managing his millions of dollars in stock holdings, how Washington can help New York City provide for asylum-seekers and his thoughts on bail reform – “sympathetic to arguments on both sides.” City & State met Goldman on April 12 in his new Manhattan office – where he joked that he’ll put up City & State’s Denim Dan cover on his still-bare office walls. 

The responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

House Republicans have planned a Congressional hearing on “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan” as a response to District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of Donald Trump. In response, you said Rep. Jim Jordan, the Judiciary chair planning the hearing, isn’t welcome in your district – 

I said Jim Jordan is not welcome in my district for this political stunt. I would be happy to meet with Jim Jordan in my district anytime he would like to come talk about significant criminal justice reform, gun safety legislation, immigration reform. I'm always happy to have meaningful, substantive conversations. This hearing that he appears to be planning is not that, and is instead clearly retribution in support of Donald Trump against Alvin Bragg because he does not like the fact that Alvin Bragg charged Donald Trump with 34 crimes.

Is there anything you can actually do, or are planning to do, to stop the hearing?

No, no no. He's the chairman of the committee. He can call hearings. That's how this works. He can go forward with a field hearing if he wants. But the point I was making and am making is that this is purely political theater. It's not meaningful, it's not substantive, it’s trying to embarrass and undermine Alvin Bragg in a very personal way solely because he is coordinating with Donald Trump and Donald Trump's criminal defense strategy. And this is effectively part of what is clearly a taxpayer funded legal defense arm of Donald Trump's defense.

Right, you went as far as to say it was criminal obstruction of justice (Bragg has sued Jordan, accusing him of intimidation).

I don’t – I didn’t actually say that it is obstruction of justice. I think he’s stepped over the line in terms of intervening and trying to interfere with an ongoing criminal prosecution. In order to have obstruction of justice, you would have to show corrupt intent, (it) gets into a more complicated legal question. But I don't think there's any dispute that he is using the official authority of his chairmanship of a congressional committee to try to interfere in an ongoing state level prosecution, which is far outside the bounds of Congress' jurisdiction, violates both the law in terms of what kind of oversight Congress can do, but also states’ rights and state sovereignty. And it is made all the worse because this whole investigation was initiated at the direction and behest of Donald Trump, which further underscores how much of an inappropriate and improper abuse of power it is. But also makes very clear what his motivation is.

Are you able to, and planning to, attend the hearing April 17 in Manhattan? Are you able to ask questions? 

Yeah, I hope to be waived on to the committee for this hearing. I'm on a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, the weaponization subcommittee, but I'm not on the full Judiciary Committee hearing. But because it is in my district, and it addresses New York City, I hope to be able to participate here. It’s up to Jim Jordan to decide. 

You fundraised for Alvin Bragg in 2021 and supported his campaign. At the time, Bragg was careful, as all the Manhattan DA candidates were, in talking about Trump. Is that now coming back to bite him, the fact he even talked about Trump at all? You appeared at a fundraiser with him which was clearly about, ‘Here’s a guy who impeached him, let’s get Trump.’ Is that weakening Bragg’s case? Make him look like a more political actor? 

I disagree with the premise that the fundraiser was about getting Trump. I worked with Alvin in the (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the) Southern District of New York and have been friends with him for 15 years. And I think Alvin was very careful to talk about his past experience related to Donald Trump, but making no promises, no assertions about what he would do, in part because he had no idea what the investigation had uncovered, what the evidence was. And I think if you had any doubt about what his intentions are, those doubts were completely allayed when he declined to prosecute Donald Trump (on property valuations by the Trump Organization), despite the very strong recommendation of his prosecutors under him in the second month of his term. So if Alvin Bragg were truly out to get Donald Trump, as the allegations now are, then he certainly would have done that when the prosecutors under him made such a strong recommendation to charge Trump. And that's why this whole argument about him being partisan falls completely on its head. Because even Donald Trump's lawyer at the time, a little over a year ago, praised Alvin Bragg for following the rule of law. Now his lawyers are saying he's totally partisan and political, and that that's all this is. Well, you can't have it both ways. He either follows the rule of law or he's partisan. But the only difference is what the ultimate outcome of his decision was. And so I think the accusations and allegations that Alvin is doing this for political or partisan reasons are completely unfounded.

Trump gave you a backhanded endorsement in your primary last year. Have you thought about how you’d endorse Trump in the 2024 primary?

I will not be endorsing Donald Trump.  

You used to prosecute insider trading, at SDNY. Your colleague Rep. Nicole Malliotakis was just scrutinized for trading bank stocks while working on the closure of Signature Bank. Do you think members should be banned from trading stocks, or subject to further regulation? 

I do. I think that we as members of Congress need to do everything that we can to ensure that the public trusts us to make decisions that are in the best interest of our constituents and of the country, and we have to try to ensure that the public has faith in the work that we are doing.

How do you manage your own finances, or your own stocks? Do you manage your own money? (Goldman, is an heir to Levi Strauss & Co., among other family money, and his net worth is reportedly somewhere between $64 million and $253 million.)

I do not. I have investment advisors who manage my money. We are in the lengthy process of trying to follow the ethics requirements, and trying to figure out how to do that with the way that my money is structured. But I do not have day-to-day involvement in any of my investments. And I'm going through the process of making sure that that is a more formalized process.

To the point of a blind trust?

Probably to the point of a blind trust, but we need to figure out how to structure that, and it's quite complicated – to the point where the House Ethics Committee, who we are in regular contact with, has said that it is a process that sometimes takes up to a year.

I saw you joined the call for the state to extend rental assistance to New York City Housing Authority tenants. NYCHA said some 71,000 households owe more than $446 million in rent. It’s great to call on the state to do something, but what are you doing as a member of Congress for NYCHA, to fund public housing?

It is incredibly frustrating that the federal government has disinvested from public housing around the country. And as one of my first acts in Congress, I joined Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez to introduce the Public Housing Emergency Response Act which would provide NYCHA with more than $30 billion to address the backlog and capital improvements. The reality of being in the minority in the House is that the decision on whether to bring that to the floor is not up to us, and is up to the Republicans. And we've gotten no indication that they have any interest in moving that bill forward. However, I'm looking for creative solutions to assist NYCHA residents. And one is an appropriations letter that we led in the last couple of weeks, which would provide for all of the savings from NYCHA’s bulk rate negotiations for utilities to come back to NYCHA, whereas now about 50% of them go to HUD. And so that would actually be an influx of $50 million for NYCHA to include in their budget. And so we are looking aggressively and creatively at ways of bolstering NYCHA’s bottom line and providing the services and the dignity that the residents really deserve.

Speaking of housing, that’s a hot topic in state budget negotiations. Is there any federal role here when it comes to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan for upzoning and housing subsidies? 

I am of a strong belief that tackling the housing crisis has to be a whole of government effort at the city, state and federal level. And that we have such a need for more housing units, that we need to tackle this problem from every single angle that we can. So I certainly support the governor's efforts to be creative and figuring out ways to provide more units. But it's not even just affordable units, which we are in desperate need of, it’s units generally, because rent prices have just gone through the roof. And New Yorkers are being pushed out because they simply can't pay their rent. And we have issues of warehousing rent-stabilized apartments. We have issues of landlords jacking up rent prices by 50%, and even more. And so we're all going to have to band together in order to address this crisis. But we have to recognize that it is a crisis and we need to address it immediately.

Any thoughts on the idea to raise the Floor Area Ratio cap on residential buildings, specifically?


The other big budget issue is bail reform and recidivism. Do you have a position on what the state should be doing?

I'm going to let the state sort that out. I am sympathetic to arguments on both sides. And I certainly, from my experience working very closely with criminal justice reform advocates back in law school, and having been a prosecutor for 10 years, I am very well aware of the disparate impact that our criminal justice system has on poor people and communities of color. And I think we need to be very cognizant of that as we enact policy. And to that end, I think we need to be providing people, not only with second chances, but with assistance in order to stay out of the criminal justice system. 

That being said, there are a relatively few number of people who commit the majority of crime in the city, and who are serial recidivists. And I do think that we need to address that issue in a very narrowly tailored way, where we are still providing those people who are arrested with a second chance. But at some point, if they take advantage of additional chances too many times, judges need to have the ability to set bail or to remand them if they're just unwilling to follow the law.

On the city level, the main federal issue has been asylum-seeker funding. You’ve called for $800 million from the new Shelter and Services program to go to New York. What’s the program? And is there any chance of this actually happening under a Republican controlled House?

The application that the city just made a week or two ago is to the existing plan to get reimbursement from FEMA for all of the money that the city has outlaid in order to welcome migrants and asylees to our city with dignity and open arms, which I really commend the mayor on doing. There's another program coming down the line, that is another pot of money that may be available for reimbursement as well. 

I think the biggest issue that I want to focus on the federal level to alleviate the the crisis, and the burden on the city, is to focus on work authorization for migrants and asylees, who either have applied for asylum, or are in the process of applying for asylum or have and have otherwise qualified in some way. Because right now, we have a tremendous supply of individuals who want to work. And we have tremendous demand from the business community, in the restaurant industry, in the home care industry, in the construction industry. And I hear from many folks in those industries, how much they would like to tap into the labor market of asylees and migrants. And it ought to be the government's job to facilitate that marriage, rather than provide barriers to that marriage. 

And that's not necessarily taking away job opportunities from citizens or others who are already lawfully here. They, of course, continue to have access to those jobs. But what is clear is that labor supply is not enough. And so the best way to integrate these migrants who are eager to work, and to help our economy, and to alleviate the burden on the city to pay for them, is to provide them with proper work authorization, so they get the worker protections that they deserve, they get the minimum wage that they deserve or more, and so that they can then support their families, get their own housing and get off of the city's dole.

I’ve heard so many people support that idea. How would that practically work? Could it be an executive order, or would it have to be a law?

You can tackle it in both ways. There are mechanisms where you can provide some degree of emergency parole, where a work authorization application would be available. We are looking into different ways of reducing the wait time after someone applies for asylum in order to apply for a work authorization. That right now is six months or longer, and there's no good basis for that. We are looking into ways of reducing that to 30 days or less. And then of course, there is legislation that we could pass that would likely have to be part of larger immigration reform.

This of course has been a big issue for Mayor Eric Adams. Have you met with him?

I have spoken to the mayor on several occasions. I’ve spoken to the Biden administration and actually mentioned this to President Biden directly. This is a very, very high priority for me and my office. And we are very much in sync with the mayor’s office in working together to try to get some of the funding to alleviate the burden on the city.

Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James just signed an amicus brief calling for redistricting to be done over again. Do you think it should be? Have you considered the merits of that case?

Yeah, I think the argument is a very strong argument. I disagreed with the way that the Court of Appeals proceeded, and that really the Steuben County judge proceeded. But ultimately there is a pretty clear process for determining congressional districts, and that process was not adhered to. It wasn't adhered to because of time constraints. But we now have an opportunity to follow the process that would have existed if we had time. So yes, I think the IRC (Independent Redistricting Commission) should ultimately get the revision back and be able to make a new proposal and ultimately go to the Legislature to revise the districts consistent with the Court of Appeals opinion. That should be done by the established process that voters voted for, not by a special master appointed by a Supreme Court judge.

You had a very contentious open primary last year. And I've heard from a number of progressives that were with other candidates in the race, that they're pretty happy with you so far. What have you been doing to reach out to opponents and the progressive left in order to, presumably, avoid a challenge in 2024? 

One of the nice parts about being in the job is that I'm able to put my money where my mouth is. And I think there was a complete misperception that I was some conservative Democrat during the primary. Whereas I share so many of the progressive values that my district does. And I've been happy to have had the opportunity to support letters and legislation and appropriations and policy that is consistent with my fundamental values.

I've also been able to put in the work and it has been a top priority of mine to get out and around the district and to really dig into the local issues.

You’re everywhere. You’re commenting on everything. Is your dream job U.S. Senator, state attorney general, or something else?

(Laughs) The dream is to do this job as well as I can. And to use the opportunity to revitalize the city, to preserve and protect our democracy, and to do whatever I can to put our country on the right track. 

I'm the unusual new member of Congress, who has more experience working in Congress than in the district. Clearly, I am most comfortable with the committee work in Washington. And that's very important work. And I'm happy to be able to add value to push back against the Republican overreach and the politicized investigations that we are seeing. But because I have less experience in the district, I am putting more attention and focus on the district than I am to the national issues in Washington. And part of that is doing the unusual thing of putting more of my budget and staff in the district than I have in Washington. 

You’ve gotten a lot of attention for bagels. Are you keeping kosher for Passover? Can you eat bagels right now?

I cannot. And we’ll let you in on a little scoop – we were hoping to have our inaugural in-district Bagel Caucus this week, but because it’s Passover, I had to put it off.

Favorite bagel shop in the district?

I’m a Russ & Daughters guy. More because of the lox than even the bagels.