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DA Bragg’s looming indictment of Trump follows campaign trail boasts

New York Post logo: MainLogo New York Post 3/23/2023 Bruce Golding

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg appears on the verge of bringing an unprecedented criminal case against former President Donald Trump — after crowing on the campaign trail that he’d be the best person to do it.

The Democratic DA repeatedly touted his experience suing Trump, 76, while serving as the state’s chief deputy attorney general from 2017 to 2018, leading to the shutdown of the Donald J. Trump Foundation and payment of $2 million in court-ordered damages.

“I certainly have more experience with [Trump] than most people in the world,” then-candidate Bragg told The Wall Street Journal in April 2021.

At a December 2020 Democratic candidates forum, Bragg also pointed to the foundation case as a key reason for him to inherit a probe of Trump that was opened by outgoing Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., The New York Times reported.

© Provided by New York Post Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg boasted about suing former President Donald Trump while running for office.AP © Provided by New York Post A Manhattan grand jury is reportedly hearing evidence about the $130,000 “hush money” payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, pictured here with Trump in 2006.Stormy Daniels

“I have investigated Trump and his children and held them accountable for their misconduct with the Trump Foundation,” Bragg said. “I know how to follow the facts and hold people in power accountable.”

Bragg also boasted, “It is a fact that I have sued Trump more than a hundred times.”

“I can’t change that fact, nor would I. That was important work. That’s separate from anything that the DA’s office may be looking at now,” he added.

© Provided by New York Post Former Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns in 2019.Getty Images

Bragg’s campaign rhetoric led to pushback from rival Democrat Tali Farhadian Weinstein, whose spokeswoman accused him of attacking Trump “for political advantage every chance he gets,” the Times said.

But following his election, Bragg, who took office Jan. 1, 2022, again invoked his experience suing Trump in response to the stunning resignations of prosecutors Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, who had led the Trump investigation until clashing with their new boss.

“Indeed, litigation involving the former president himself is not foreign to me,” Bragg said in a prepared statement on April 7, 2022. “As the Chief Deputy at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, I oversaw the successful litigation against the former president, his family, and the Trump Foundation.”

© Provided by New York Post Former Manhattan DA candidate Tali Farhadian Weinstein accused Bragg of attacking Trump “for political advantage” during the 2021 Democratic primary campaign.REUTERS

Manhattan prosecutors have reportedly been presenting evidence to a grand jury since late January in connection with the $130,000 “hush money” payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which Trump has denied.

Former Trump lawyer and ex-con Michael Cohen alleges he made the payment at Trump’s direction and Bragg reportedly plans to charge the ex-president with falsifying business records for allegedly writing off the payment as “legal fees.”

© Provided by New York Post Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, attends the 2007 Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.AP

The alleged offense would be a misdemeanor under state law, but Bragg wants to elevate it to a felony through an untested legal theory that would tie it to a violation of federal campaign finance rules, according to the Times.

On Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and two other GOP House chairmen sent Bragg a letter demanding communications, documents, and testimony about his investigation of Trump.

“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former President of the United States and current declared candidate for that office,” the letter said.

© Provided by New York Post House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans have accused Bragg of “an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”AP

“This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis — any basis — on which to bring charges, ultimately settling on a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue.”

Bragg refused to cooperate Thursday, with his general counsel saying that “the DA’s Office will not allow a Congressional investigation to impede the exercise of New York’s sovereign police power.”

Bragg’s probe — which could come to a head as early as Monday when the grand jury reconvenes — has its origins in an August 2019 subpoena in which Vance sought copies of Trump’s tax returns.

After Trump moved to quash the subpoena, Vance told a federal appeals court that the returns might provide grounds to investigate Trump and his businesses for tax fraud.

© Provided by New York Post Former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz said Bragg’s investigation of Trump “turned into the legal equivalent of a plan crash” due to “pilot error.”William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

In a February memoir, Pomerantz — hired by Vance in 2021 — wrote that he and his colleagues uncovered evidence that allegedly showed how Trump inflated the value of his properties to fraudulently obtain loans.

But the probe “turned into a legal equivalent of a plane crash” under Bragg, Pomerantz said, blaming “pilot error” for the DA’s February 2022 refusal to use Cohen as a witness against his ex-boss.

Bragg has since apparently reversed himself, with Cohen testifying before the grand jury twice last week, leaving him poised to be the prosecution’s star witness should the case go to trial.

Bragg’s office declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rosner


New York Post

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