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Who is Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA who could sue Trump?


As Donald Trump awaits a decision on whether he will be the first former president in US history to face charges, the spotlight is on the lead prosecutor: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D).

A grand jury headed by Bragg, which is leading the investigation into Trump’s alleged role in hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign, is expected to convene again on Wednesday. Trump supporters call the case politically motivated, while others say it confirms that no one is above the law in the United States.

Whatever conclusion Bragg’s investigation reaches, the Trump case will undoubtedly become a defining part of the district attorney’s tenure. Here’s what you need to know about the Manhattan Prosecutor.

Live Updates: Trump hints at possibility he won’t be charged in the hush case

Who is Alvin Bragg, and when was he elected District Attorney in Manhattan?

Bragg was elected as Manhattan’s 37th District Attorney in November 2021. He is also the office’s first black prosecutor.

Bragg, 49, took over from District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and was sworn in early 2022. He is only the fourth person elected to the position in 80 years. Prior to assuming his role, the Harvard-educated Bragg served as a federal prosecutor and public servant with the New York Attorney General.

Why is he investigating Donald Trump?

Bragg inherited the investigation into claims Trump was involved in paying Daniels when he took over from Vance. The case revolves around a $130,000 payment from Michael Cohen, a former Trump attorney, to Daniels — and Bragg is investigating whether Trump broke campaign finance laws to repay Cohen for keeping Daniels quiet over allegations that she and Trump had a had an affair. Trump says he had no affair with Daniels and has labeled the payments as extortion.

The prosecutor, the ex-president and the ‘zombie’ case that came back to life

Otherwise, what is Bragg’s job as Manhattan’s DA?

Bragg is responsible for most criminal prosecutions with a large staff and budget. He is one of five elected district attorneys in New York City – one for each of the boroughs. His office says he restructured the role to “focus more resources on prosecuting serious violent crimes,” and “protecting ordinary New Yorkers from abuse by the powerful.”

Bragg, a former white-collar prosecutor, oversaw the indictment of former Trump confidant Stephen K. Bannon on charges including money laundering and fraud. He also secured the conviction of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who was sentenced to five months in prison in connection with a long-running tax evasion case.

In December, his office also won a conviction that resulted in $1.6 million in fines for the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. – the legally permitted maximum – due to defrauding the tax authorities. With a possible indictment against Trump looming, Bragg told his staff in an email last week that he would protect them from threats. “We will not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” he wrote.

No president has ever been indicted. But one was arrested.

What have Trump and his allies said about Bragg’s investigation?

Trump has long denied the impropriety of the hush money payment to Daniels and recently called on his supporters to oppose what he says would be his imminent arrest in the Bragg investigation. Trump posted on his Truth Social platform this weekend calling on followers to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

Donald Trump said he expects to be arrested. What would happen next?

After Trump’s erroneous prediction that he would be arrested on Tuesday, he highlighted the possibility that night that he would not be charged in the case. Posting to Truth Social overnight, Trump shared a headline from Fox News: “Sources Say There’s Chance DA May Choose Not To Indict Trump As Rumors Abound.” He insisted that there was “NO CRIME, NO CASE, NO ACCOUNTING ERRORS OR CRIME, NO ‘NOT'”.

Trump has also tried to discredit Bragg by calling him “Soros-backed,” in reference to liberal philanthropist George Soros — and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), a likely 2024 opponent, also used the term to refer to the prosecutor. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has unraveled the context of this critique and language — and why it’s a handy shorthand for several of the right’s favorite targets. The Anti-Defamation League has outlined ways in which rhetoric directed at Soros, who is Jewish, often mixes with anti-Semitism.

What it means to be “Soros-backed.”

As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged people not to heed Trump’s call to protest, he denounced the investigation, saying Bragg had unfairly targeted the former president. “Lawyer after lawyer will tell you this is the weakest case out there, trying to turn a crime into a crime,” McCarthy said at a news conference on Sunday.

Stormy, Trump and more: the names you need to know in the historic hush money case

What are some of Bragg’s campaign promises?

During his 2021 campaign, Bragg positioned himself as a liberal prosecutor. He has argued that the government can promote alternatives to incarceration by charging fewer crimes and reducing the number of prisons, and that urban security will follow suit.

He campaigned to reduce gun violence, protect survivors of domestic violence, and not prosecute some minor offenses such as marijuana use and jumping turnstiles. However, he faced backlash when he attempted to make it a felony in some cases to rob a business with a gun, forcing him to back down on that proposal.

Bragg has also said he wants to change the culture of the district attorney’s office. As a former civil rights attorney who represented Eric Garner’s mother when she was called to account by police for her son’s death in 2014, Bragg said he believes law enforcement officers should be held to higher standards. Upon taking office, he created a Police Accountability Unit to investigate officers who engage in criminal conduct while on duty and a Post-Conviction Justice Unit to re-examine closed cases involving credible claims of innocence or wrongful conviction.

What are some things you should know about Bragg’s personal life?

Growing up in Harlem, Bragg has spoken of experiences with police officers there and growing up in the neighborhood during the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic. Bragg has spoken candidly about his exposure to violence, saying he had a gun pointed at him six times before the age of 21 — three of which were by police.

Mark Berman, Shayna Jacobs, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Philip Bump, Derek Hawkins, John Wagner, and Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report.

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