NEW YORK (AP) – Alvin Bragg has already made a historic first, taking office as the first black Manhattan attorney on Saturday. Now he’s wondering whether to make Donald Trump the first former president ever to be charged with a crime.
As a district attorney, Bragg inherited an investigation into Trump and his business practices from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr.
After weeks of speculation about whether Vance would end his tenure with a bang on charges against Trump, the former prosecutor passed that decision on to Bragg, a 48-year-old civil rights attorney and former federal attorney who was sworn in at a private ceremony. partly due to COVID-19 concerns.
Bragg told CNN last month that he would be directly involved in the Trump matter. He also said he had asked the two seasoned prosecutors who led the case under Vance – General Counsel Carey Dunne and former Mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz – to move on and pull the case through.
“This is obviously a follow-up incident that deserves the attorney’s personal attention,” Bragg told CNN.
The investigation led to charges against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and its long-time CFO Allen Weisselberg last summer. In the fall, Vance convened a new grand jury to hear evidence on the case.
Trump himself continues to be investigated by the office after Vance waged a multi-year battle to gain access to the Republican’s tax records.
As chief assistant to the New York attorney general in 2018, Bragg helped oversee a lawsuit that led to the closure of Trump’s charitable foundation for using the charitable organization to advance his political and business interests.
Bragg, one of a growing wave of progressive, reform-minded prosecutors across the country, defeated Republican Thomas Kenniff in November after winning an eight-time Democratic primary in the spring.
Bragg struggled in part with promises to change the prosecution culture. Based on his own experience during the Harlem crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, Bragg said he wanted to “downsize the system,” declined to prosecute many minor offenses, and looked for alternatives to prosecuting small ” Crimes of Poverty â.
At the age of 15, a police officer held a gun in his face and falsely accused him of being a drug dealer when he was buying groceries for his father. Bragg filed a complaint at the urging of his parents, which sparked his interest in the law.
He was holding a knife to his neck. As an adult, he opened his house to a brother-in-law who had just been released from prison. Sometimes, says Bragg, the warrant squad would show up to look for the brother-in-law, knock on the door, and wake his children.
Bragg spent the last days of his campaign participating in a rare inquest into the death of Eric Garner, whose plea for “I can’t breathe” at police officers who dragged him to the ground in a stranglehold became a rally for Black Lives Matter Demonstrators in 2014. Bragg called it the “most emotionally significant” case of his career.
When elected prosecutor, Bragg said voters had “deep confidence” in him.
“The fundamental role of the prosecutor is to ensure both fairness and security,” Bragg told supporters on election night.
“That is the trust that was placed in me on the ballot, but all of us – this is what we have worked for – to show the city and the country a model for combining partnership, fairness and security in one.”