DA weighing Trump’s accusations won’t be intimidated by rhetoric
NEW YORK – Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is standing firm against Donald Trump’s increasingly hostile rhetoric, telling his staff that the office will not be intimidated or deterred as a decision on the case approaches. indictment of the former president.
Bragg sent an internal memo late Saturday hours after Trump posted a three-part social media message in which he said he could be arrested in the coming days, criticized the district attorney and encouraged his supporters to protest and ”TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
Bragg, whose office called witnesses to a grand jury investigating hidden money paid in Trump’s name during his 2016 campaign, did not mention the Republican by name but made it clear who he was writing about. . The memo came as law enforcement officials in New York prepare security for the possibility that Trump will be charged and appear in court in Manhattan.
“We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York City,” Bragg wrote, referring to “press attention and public comment” regarding an investigation. being conducted by his office.
As Bragg sought to assuage concerns about potential threats, posts about the protests began to appear online, including a Monday rally against Bragg organized by the New York Young Republican Club.
Law enforcement officials in New York are also closely monitoring online chatter warning of protests and violence if Trump is arrested, four law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The threats law enforcement officers track vary in specificity and credibility, officials said. Primarily posted online and in chat groups, the messages included calls for armed protesters to block law enforcement and attempt to prevent any potential arrests, officials said.
Law enforcement officials are also discussing a slew of security plans for lower Manhattan in the event Trump is indicted. Those plans — which officials have described as preliminary — include the possibility of closing several streets around the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse and blocking streets with large trucks, similar to security protocols in place for large events and parades in New York.
Officials could not publicly discuss details of the security plans and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Bragg, a Democrat, inherited Trump’s years-long investigation when he took office in January 2022 and was swiftly criticized — not by Trump, but by prosecutors waiting for backing down from the courts. his predecessor’s plans to accuse the former president of commercial fraud.
Bragg bounced back with convictions for Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime chief financial officer over an unrelated tax evasion scheme before turning to what he called the ‘next chapter’ of the investigation – bringing new scrutiny to silent money payments, which have been the subject of repeated federal and state investigations over the past six years.
Now, as that investigation draws to a close, Bragg is seeking to reassure its 1,600 employees in the face of growing hostility from Trump and his supporters.
In his memo on Saturday night, he wrote that the bureau was working with law enforcement officers and New York police to ensure they were safe and that “any specific or credible threats against the bureau” were made. subject of an investigation.
The memo and Trump’s earlier social media posts highlighted the contrast in styles between Bragg and Trump — two New York natives, but from different times, neighborhoods and backgrounds, and with wildly disparate personalities.
Bragg, an old-school attorney who prefers to let the work speak for itself, declined to comment publicly on the status of the investigation into Trump’s secret money or explosive missives. His office also declined to comment.
There has been no public announcement of a timeline for a decision on Trump’s indictment and at least one additional witness is expected to testify, likely on Monday, further indicating that no impeachment vote has yet been announced. been taken.
In a post Sunday, Trump blasted Bragg — Manhattan’s first black district attorney — as a “reverse racist” and accused him, without evidence, of taking orders from the Justice Department and to be a pawn for billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, who backed Bragg’s campaign through the Color Of Change PAC.
Bragg, 49, took office 15 months ago amid what he calls a ‘perfect storm’ of rising crime and political pressure, as well as internal disputes he faced over the leadership of the Trump investigation.
A former Harvard-educated federal prosecutor, assistant state attorney general and civil rights attorney, Bragg is blessed with legal and management credentials, but doesn’t have much experience navigating politics in New York.
His good faith in the courtroom includes prosecuting a rogue FBI agent and overseeing the prosecution of Trump when he was a senior official in the state attorney general’s office. His life experience includes growing up in Harlem during the crack epidemic of the 1980s and being held at gunpoint six times – three times by police.
But soon after he took office, Republicans and some centrist Democrats were calling Bragg soft on crime for a ‘Day One’ memo he sent to staff outlining his philosophy on prosecuting — or not prosecuting. – certain offences. Among other things, he said the DA would no longer prosecute certain petty crimes, including evading subway tickets and possession of marijuana.
Former U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican, campaigned for governor last year in part on a promise to remove the independently elected Bragg from office. The vitriol against Bragg has become so rancid – and sometimes racist – friends worried about his safety.
The New York Post put Bragg on the front page 13 times in his first year in office, including five times in his first month, with derisive headlines like “Happy 2022, Criminals!” and “”Justice” Gone Mad.” » ‘
It became routine for a Post photographer to ask Bragg questions when he arrived at the DA’s office each morning, which he often ignored. The truth is that while certain types of crime increased in Manhattan in 2022, compared to the previous year, there were fewer murders and shootings.
Inside the district attorney’s office, Bragg has faced dissent over the direction of the Trump investigation — grievances aired again last month in a book by former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz.
In 2021, Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., cleared Pomerantz and another top deputy, Carey Dunne, to seek an indictment on charges that Trump overstated the value of his assets in the states. financial he had given to the lenders. Vance left office before the case was completed, leaving the charges to be decided by Bragg.
Bragg decided not to proceed immediately, citing concerns about the strength of the case. In a recent statement, he said, “Pomerantz’s plane was not ready to take off.”
The delay prompted Pomerantz and Dunne to resign, leading to speculation that Bragg had given up on pursuing a case against Trump.
Bragg refuted this in a rare public statement last April, writing: ”In the long and proud tradition of white-collar prosecutions at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, we investigate thoroughly and follow the facts without fear or favor. ”
Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.
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