Who is Alvin Bragg?

He became the first Black Manhattan DA by winning the post in November 2021

Web Desk
Friday, March 31, 2023
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (L) leaves his office in New York on March 30, 2023. A New York grand jury has voted to indict former US president Donald Trump over hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. — AFP

Former President Donald Trump's indictment has brought Manhattan district attorney (DA) Alvin Bragg to the spotlight as he became the first prosecutor in the history of the US to charge any president — former or incumbent — in a case, AFP reported.

He became the first Black Manhattan DA by winning the post in November 2021.

Trump's indictment in the Hush Money case — in which he is indicted to pay money to an adult film star Stormy Daniels — has also drawn criticism from the conservative factions of the US including the former president who regards Bragg as "handpicked by George Soros" and "doing dirty work for Joe Biden".

The picture shows Donald Trump (left) and adult film star Stormy Daniels. — AFP/File

As a progressive Democrat candidate, he pledged to opt for the alternative to imprisonment and ramp up the prosecutions of financial frauds and crimes.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court on March 29, 2023, in New York City. — AFP

Manhattan DA was born in Harlem in 1973, he had faced aggressive policing by New York Police Department (NYPD) which, according to him, "has shaped his support for restorative justice."

While in an interview with the American Prospective magazine, he said that he had been "deeply affected by the criminal justice system, most directly through three gunpoint stops by the NYPD during unconstitutional stops."

Bragg, who was educated at Harvard said that “You can’t really fully have public safety without trust.”

The 49-year-old has also previously worked for the New York attorney general and the Southern District of New York. But his start to life as a DA was far from smooth sailing.

When he took office in January last year, he said that he would not be dealing with offences of low level but would prosecute major and most serious crimes.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg leaves his office as the grand jury continues to hear evidence against former President Donald Trump on March 22, 2023, in New York City. — AFP

However, he revisited his policy as he followed severe criticism from NYPD and Democratic Mayor Eric Adams.

DA Bragg earlier had been hesitating to the Trump case — which started in 2018 — he inherited from his predecessor Cyrus Vance.

In February last year, two leading prosecutors pulled themselves out of the investigation of Trump's case pertaining to financial fraud.

A pragmatist prosecutor

The DA office said in a statement that it is investigating ongoing the case of the Hush Money amount paid to Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Last year, Trump Organisation and another Trump business entity were convicted of financial fraud and tax evasion by showing false business records Trump Organisation’s CEO Allen Weisselberg was served with five months in prison and was fined $2 million for being part of the embezzlement, however, Trump was not charged.

It has increased the confidence of Bragg to form a jury to investigate Trump’s financial payment case.

former prosecutor Bennett Gershman praised him saying that told AFP that Bragg has shown himself to be flexible and pragmatic

As Trump's attacks ramped up on Bragg, the DA office told staff that his office will "not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York."

Trump indictment case

45th president of the US Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his alleged involvement in the hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels, making him the first former president to face criminal charges.

However, the exact charges are not yet known as the indictment is currently under seal.

According to CNN, the charges against Trump could include more than 30 counts related to business fraud.

Trump denied any wrongdoing and insisted that he is "completely innocent" of all charges.

He also vowed not to drop out of the 2024 presidential race despite facing criminal charges.

Trump also appealed to his supporters to donate money for his legal defence, raising over $2 million since making the plea.

The hush money in question was paid to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to keep silent about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.

Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said that he coordinated the payments to Daniels and another woman, Karen McDougal, who also claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Trump.

The former president initially denied any knowledge of the payment to Daniels but later acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for it.

Daniels' lawyer, Clark Brewster, emphasised that no one is above the law, and Cohen, who pleaded guilty to a campaign-finance violation in 2018, stood by his testimony and evidence provided to prosecutors.