Who is Manhattan Veteran prosecutor DA Alvin Bragg? All About the Manhattan DA Who Indicted Trump

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s pursuit of criminal charges against former President Donald Trump could provide a case for the history books while also testing one of New York City’s top prosecutors, a newcomer to political office who built his career in state and federal law enforcement. 
Mr. Bragg, 49 years old, took office in January of last year, becoming the first Black district attorney in Manhattan after winning the nomination in a crowded Democratic field and then triumphing in his first run for public office. He campaigned by touting his lengthy record in law enforcement, which includes stints with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the New York attorney general, as well as sharing his personal experiences living with crime and aggressive policing while growing up in Harlem during the 1980s crack epidemic. 
Mr. Bragg has advocated for progressive approaches to prosecutions, promoting alternatives to incarceration for some offenders. He pledged to give priority to violent crime, including gun-trafficking, but drew a more lenient stance on lower-level cases, saying he would instruct prosecutors to avoid seeking jail time. He has also said not all cases involving gun possession merited harsh sentences. Since taking office, Mr. Bragg’s approach at times has put him at odds with other city officials worried about rising crime.
Mr. Bragg inherited the office’s probes of Mr. Trump from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr. Mr. Vance had been investigating Mr. Trump on several fronts, leading to a case in the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2020 that the district attorney’s office could enforce a subpoena for the then-president’s financial records.
When Mr. Vance stepped down, he authorized his prosecutors to move forward with a case alleging Mr. Trump falsified financial records for economic gain, but left the final call to Mr. Bragg, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Bragg declined to bring the case, prompting two key prosecutors to resign in protest last year, according to a new book written by Mark Pomerantz, one of the prosecutors who resigned.
“After closely reviewing all the evidence from Mr. Pomerantz’s investigation, I came to the same conclusion as several senior prosecutors involved in the case, and also those I brought on: more work was needed,” Mr. Bragg said in response to the book.
Mr. Bragg said after the resignations that his probe into Mr. Trump continued, but there were few visible signs of an active investigation.
By the beginning of this year, Mr. Bragg had shifted gears, spurring his office to move forward on a different potential Trump case—one that wasn’t favored internally during Mr. Vance’s tenure—involving the former president’s role in paying hush money to a porn star. By pressing charges in that case, Mr. Bragg is taking a somewhat untested legal approach that could face challenges in court. Mr. Trump’s lawyers will almost certainly claim any charges aren’t valid under New York law, as well as arguing that Mr. Bragg’s office waited too long to bring them.
Mr. Bragg hasn’t publicly stated why he is more receptive to building a case around the hush-money payment than his predecessor. The district attorney’s office has abandoned and revived the hush-money inquiry so often over the years that prosecutors have referred to it as the “zombie case,” Mr. Pomerantz said in his book.
Mr. Bragg has been navigating increasingly hostile criticism from the former president and his allies as an indictment has appeared imminent.
Mr. Trump last week on social media forecast a possible indictment could bring “potential death & destruction,” and posted a photo of himself holding a baseball bat next to an image of Mr. Bragg’s head. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday that the city was ready for any potential protests or incidents related to an indictment.
On Fox News Monday night, Mr. Trump defended his post saying he didn’t intend to call for violence. “I didn’t say ‘do something bad,’ I said ‘I am afraid that people will do something’ because people are very angry about it.”
Three Republican House committee chairs have requested documents and communications about the hush-money investigation, questioning whether Mr. Bragg was interfering in the presidential election. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg called the inquiry unprecedented and said it “serves only to hinder, disrupt and undermine the legitimate work of our dedicated prosecutors.”
Former colleagues said Mr. Bragg likely approached Trump matters as he has others, with meticulous preparation, heavy personal involvement and without regard to political ramifications, even at his own peril. 
“He is the toughest critic of his own potential cases,” said lawyer Scott R. Wilson, who worked with Mr. Bragg at the New York attorney general’s office. “He’s a careful and thoughtful prosecutor who will want to bring not just a defensible case, but a winnable one.”
A graduate of Harvard University and its law school, Mr. Bragg clerked for former U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. in Manhattan and has held a series of government posts. He worked as chief of litigation and investigations for the New York City Council and later served for several years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, trying white-collar crimes and public-corruption cases. 
Mr. Bragg also served two stints in the New York attorney general’s office, where he rose to first chief deputy attorney general, supervising a unit that investigated police-involved deaths of unarmed civilians and overseeing civil litigation against the Trump Foundation, Mr. Trump’s now-defunct charity. As a result of the litigation, Mr. Trump admitted misusing funds and was ordered to pay $2 million to charities.  
During his district-attorney campaign, Mr. Bragg touted his work challenging Trump administration policies on behalf of the state of New York. “I certainly have more experience with [Trump] than most people in the world,” Mr. Bragg said in a 2021 interview.
Mr. Bragg prevailed in a crowded primary of eight Democrats, winning 34% of the vote, which set him up for a comfortable victory in the general election against a Republican opponent who faced long odds. His one-time boss, former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, endorsed him, as did U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler. 
“By personality, he’s a prosecutor, not a politician,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Mr. Bragg at the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. “It’s hard to break through in a crowded field without being flashy and bombastic, and that’s not Alvin.”
Upon entering office, Mr. Bragg began seeking to implement some of the criminal-justice policies on which he campaigned. In a memo issued on his first day, Mr. Bragg outlined a list of low-level charges the district attorney’s office wouldn’t prosecute.
Within days, the memo and his campaign promises put him at odds with the New York Police Department, its unions and the newly elected mayor, Mr. Adams, a moderate Democrat who won office after making tougher law enforcement a central message of his campaign.
Mr. Bragg later clarified his policies, telling prosecutors to use their discretion in seeking jail time and saying that gun possession cases would be taken seriously.  
Since then Mr. Bragg has worked to control the messaging out of his office and foster an image that he is both tough on crime and fair to defendants, said Sarah Krissoff, a former federal prosecutor who worked with him in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office. 
“That’s a tough line to walk,” she said. “Frankly, you can end up making everyone angry.”
The hush-money case comes after Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors won a tax-fraud conviction of the Trump Organization late last year in a case involving benefits paid off the books to some executives.
After the company and its finance chief were sentenced in January, Mr. Bragg said publicly the Trump probe was entering “its next chapter.” A few weeks later, Mr. Bragg convened a grand jury to hear evidence related to the hush-money payments.
Lawyer Janet Sabel, who worked as a co-chief deputy with Mr. Bragg at the state attorney general’s office, said Mr. Bragg would have likely analyzed relevant issues himself, and not just delegated to other people.
“He’s not going to proceed unless he thinks the facts and law warrant it,” Ms. Sabel said. 
Mr. Bragg has appeared in good spirits despite the public scrutiny and political attacks he has faced, said Ms. Krissoff, who spoke to him twice at recent social events, including a cocktail party co-hosted by Mr. Bharara for alumni of the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office. 
High-Profile Cases
Bragg, who describes himself as a white-collar prosecutor, has been involved in a number of high-profile cases.
Since becoming DA, he announced an indictment against Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon who is accused of defrauding donors in a fundraising scheme to build the wall along the southern border.
Epoch Times PhotoSteve Bannon, former advisor to former President Donald Trump, arrives at the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in New York City on Sept. 8, 2022. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
He was also involved in two cases against the Trump Organization.
Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp., was charged under Vance, Bragg’s predecessor. The companies were charged with tax fraud and accused of reducing payroll liability from executive salaries through untaxed bonuses and millions in luxury perks.
Weisselberg pleaded guilty to the charges. He was sentenced to five months in jail and agreed to testify against the Trump companies.
Bragg oversaw the case against the Trump Organization, which was found guilty late last year. The Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corp. were fined $810,000 and $800,000, respectively. Trump, who denied involvement, was not personally charged in the case.
Bragg also represented the family of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer in 2014.
Bragg’s Campaign Backed by Soros?
Billionaire George Soros, 92, founder of Open Society Foundations, is known for putting millions of dollars behind liberal prosecutors and political candidates but has claimed no connection to Bragg.
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis called out Bragg as being “Soros-backed” in response to Bragg’s announcement of the indictment against Trump. Many Republicans, including Trump, have concurred with DeSantis.
“The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter. “The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent,” he said.
“Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.”
Epoch Times Photo
Hungarian-born U.S. investor and left-wing political philanthropist George Soros looks on after having delivered a speech on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 23, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)
When Soros was asked about his connection to Bragg, he denied contributing to the prosecutor’s campaign, adding that he did not know him.
“As for Alvin Bragg, as a matter of fact I did not contribute to his campaign and I don’t know him,” Soros wrote in a Twitter exchange with Semafor journalist Steve Clemons. “I think some on the right would rather focus on far-fetched conspiracy theories than on the serious charges against the former president.”
Soros also pointed to his op-ed in The Wall Street Journal titled “Why I Support Reform Prosecutors,” which he said explains why he has donated to “reform-minded” prosectors.
In May 2021, Soros donated $1 million to the Color of Change PAC, according to Open Secrets.
During the same period, the Color of Change PAC endorsed and spent money backing Bragg’s campaign.
What Else?
After taking office, Bragg issued a “Day 1 Memo – FACT SHEET” with a list of his policy changes, including not charging people with resisting arrest for a non-criminal offense, fare evasion, prostitution, and other misdemeanor offenses. (pdf)
New York City police unions have accused him of being soft on crime.
“Criminals know that @ManhattanDA will bend over backwards to protect them, not law-abiding New Yorkers,” the Police Benevolent Association wrote on Twitter last summer.
Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, has described Bragg as “a pro-criminal politician.”

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