Alvin Bragg on Trump Arrest: ‘I Will Not Normalize Serious Criminal Conduct’
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg laid out his case against former President Donald Trump at a press conference shortly after Trump’s arrest and arraignment.
Trump turned himself over to authorities at Manhattan’s criminal courthouse on Tuesday, where he pleaded not guilty to 34 first-degree felony charges of falsifying business records. Bragg emphasized that the charges aren’t simply about a single 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
“That is exactly what this case is about: 34 false statements made to cover up other crimes,” he said. “These are felony crimes in New York state no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
Bragg added that Trump “repeatedly” made false statements on New York business records, and that Trump allegedly “lied again and again to protect their interests and evade the laws to which we’re all held accountable.” He also said that the scheme involved Trump and others making “three payments to people who claimed to have negative information about Donald Trump,” and that the $130,000 payment to Daniels was made to “hide damaging information.”
When questioned by reporters, Bragg indicated that the prosecution had access to materials including “text messages, e-mails, contemporaneous phone records, [and] multiple witnesses” which will be presented in court.
Bragg is the first prosecutor to bring criminal charges against a former United States president. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was convicted for his role in the hush money payment in 2018. Cohen named Trump as the mastermind behind the plot to pay off Daniels, but the case was put on ice during Trump’s presidency. When asked why Bragg decided to pursue charges at this particular moment, the DA responded that he brings forth cases “when they’re ready,” and that after conducting a “rigorous, thorough investigation, the case was ready to be brought.”
Trump has leveled a steady barrage of attacks against Bragg after it became apparent he would be charged. Trump raged against the district attorney last week after a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him, accusing the district attorney of being controlled by Jewish billionaire George Soros, as well as of engaging in “election interference.” Trump continued to target Bragg the night before his arrest, issuing a frenzy of last-minute Truth Social posts demanding Bragg “INDICT HIMSELF” and resign.
Trump’s demonization of Bragg has already resulted in threats against his life. Bragg’s office received a letter last month containing a death threat and an unidentified white powder that was later proven harmless.
Bragg had not commented publicly on the case before Tuesday, but in late March the district attorney slammed Republican lawmakers for attempting to interfere in the prosecution. The general counsel for Bragg’s office issued a letter to House Republicans, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), asking them to refrain from making inflammatory accusations against the office, withdraw their request for materials related to the case, and “let the criminal justice process proceed without unlawful political interference.”
Bragg insisted on Tuesday that he is just doing his job, and that Trump’s standing as a former president doesn’t shield him from legal accountability. “As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law,” he said. “No amount of money and no amount of power changes that enduring American principle.”
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