NEW YORK (NewsNation) — When Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg took office in 2022, he indicated he didn’t think the case against former President Donald Trump for organizing hush-money payments to an adult film star was strong enough to pursue charges.
Bragg won the 2021 election replacing Cyrus Vance Jr. He also inherited the Trump investigation from Vance, but Bragg’s initial reluctance led to the resignations of two veteran assistant prosecutors who were working on the investigation; they told him he was making a mistake.
Yet, it turns out, Bragg was playing the long game, still examining evidence and conducting interviews until he had enough to convince a New York grand jury that Trump should be indicted.
Bragg has placed himself at the center of a political firestorm. He now has the distinction of being the first district attorney in American history to criminally indictment a former president.
The investigation dates back to 2016 when Trump allegedly directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels who said she had an affair with the former president. Trump has repeatedly denied that claim.
Bragg faced criticism from Trump and Republican lawmakers over what they’ve deemed a “politically motivated” investigation. Despite attacks from Trump and the four-year-long investigation, Bragg remained quiet until Wednesday.
After the grand jury voted in favor of charging Trump, Bragg broke his silence and issued a statement: “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans, including Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan, have demanded Bragg testify on Capitol Hill and submit documents related to the investigation into Trump.
Bragg responded, This “is an unprecedent[ed] inquiry into a pending local prosecution. The letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.”
On Friday, Bragg also emailed a letter in response to the request to the congressional Republicans.
“Your recent letter states that the purpose of your inquiry is to conduct ‘an examination of the
facts’ relating to the investigation of Mr. Trump. But Congress has no warrant for interfering
with individual criminal investigations — much less investigations conducted by a separate
sovereign. The Committees’ attempted interference with an ongoing state criminal investigation — and now prosecution — is an unprecedented and illegitimate incursion on New York’s sovereign interests.
“Moreover, your examination of the facts of a single criminal investigation, for the supposed
purpose of determining whether any charges against Mr. Trump are warranted, is an improper
and dangerous usurpation of the executive and judicial functions.”
While many continue to say Bragg’s case against Trump is flimsy at best and won’t end with a conviction, Mediaite founding editor Colby Hall told NewsNation anchor Leland Vittert that he’s going to wait before reaching any conclusions.
“I might take the other point of view and say, we don’t know yet, and this, I think, could end up being very bad for Trump because the indictment, we haven’t seen it yet. It’s unsealed, and there’s some other bits of information,” Hall said.
Trump responded to the indictment Thursday evening, calling it “political persecution” and “election interference at the highest level in history” in a statement.
The former president also called Bragg “a disgrace” and rather than stopping a wave of crimes happening in New York City, like murders and burglaries, Bragg is focused on him.
Prosecutors said they were working to coordinate Trump’s surrender, which sources told NewsNation would most likely happen Tuesday.