Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, is poised to make history as the first prosecutor at the federal, state, or local level to bring criminal charges against a former U.S. president.
Bragg’s office has been investigating an alleged hush money payment made by former President Donald Trump’s then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Bragg was criticized for blowing a case against Trump, after two leading prosecutors resigned in frustration over his refusal to seek an indictment that the preceding Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance, approved before leaving the job, people familiar with the situation said.
Vance, who declined to seek reelection as district attorney after critics suggested that contributions to his campaign were directly linked to Vance not prosecute Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.
Vance told a team led by seasoned litigators Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz to go to a grand jury to begin the process of securing a case against the former president, once he concluded there was enough evidence after a three-year probe to obtain an indictment and conviction,
The $130,000 payment was allegedly made to Daniels in exchange for her silence over an affair with Trump, who denies any wrongdoing, but as Bragg is believed to have informed the Secret Service that an indictment may be forthcoming.
Trump said Saturday that “illegal leaks” indicated that he would be arrested Tuesday and called on supporters to protest, in posts on his social media platform.
Trump — who famously told an extremist group to “stand back and stand by” shortly before the 2020 elections — called for his supporters to “protest” in response to his possible prosecution.
In stark contrast to his comments that incited the Jan. 6 attack, when Trump told his radicalized followers to go to the Capitol ‘peacefully’ before they rioted, his latest remarks never bothered to use the word ‘peacefully’ at all.
Bragg, who made history in 2021 as the first black man elected New York County district attorney, has a distinguished career as a prosecutor. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, a deputy attorney general of New York, and a chief litigator for the New York City Council.
Bragg’s tenure as district attorney has been focused on two key platforms: investing in alternatives to incarceration and ramping up white-collar and public corruption prosecutions. His campaign for DA was heavily based on his personal biography and desire for prosecutorial reform, having grown up in New York’s Harlem neighborhood during the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic.
The Harvard-educated attorney has a track record of taking on high-profile cases involving civil rights issues, including representing the family of Eric Garner, a black man who died at the hands of New York police in 2014. He has also been a vocal opponent of the Trump administration, claiming to have helped sue the administration over 100 times during its four-year term.
As the investigation into the alleged hush money payment reaches its conclusion, all eyes are on Bragg and the possibility of an indictment against a former U.S. president. Despite the potential for political fallout, Bragg has made it clear that his office will not be intimidated or threatened in the pursuit of justice.