New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg is yet again under fire for appearing to have dropped the longtime criminal investigation into Donald Trump and his real estate empire, after New York Attorney General Tish James announced a bombshell civil suit against Trump and his family members for many of the same acts the criminal case was presumed to cover.
Bragg, a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), took office on January 1, 2022, after winning election following the retirement of Cyrus Vance, Jr. Many had expected Vance to file charges, but almost immediately Bragg was accused of slow-walking the last portion of the investigation. By February 23, the investigation’s top two prosecutors abruptly quit.
The news rocked the country and New York.
One day later The New Yorker’s award-winning investigative reporter, Jane Mayer, wrote: “After promising to prioritize the case, the new Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, seems to have abandoned it.”
Indeed, despite Bragg’s claim months later, that the case was still active, charges have yet to be filed.
On Wednesday, after AG James sued Trump, his three eldest children – Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka – several of his companies, and people associated with his business including former CFO Allen Weisselberg, many are turning their attention to Bragg.
Many believed Vance had come close to filing charges. As far back as 2019, as investigative reporter David Farenthold (then at The Washington Post and now of The New York Times) reported, they had already found plenty, he notes today.
NEW: How did @realDonaldTrump inflate his net worth to lenders?
–Added 10 stories to Trump Tower.
–Added 800 acres to his winery.
–Added 24 ready-to-sell lots to his property in CA.
We’ve got (some of the) inflated docs investigators now want to see. https://t.co/cNfKTsSlrW
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) March 28, 2019
Anger online against Bragg is palpable, given all that James revealed.
Tish James’ “massive case also raises real questions about why [Bragg] stood down on this same case on the criminal side, to the point where two prosecutors quit,” tweeted MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.
Clearly aware of the optics and possibly the blowback brewing online Bragg, one hour after James’ press conference ended, claimed that his investigation remains “ongoing.”
Statement from Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg: pic.twitter.com/3b2Km2QaQU
— Alvin Bragg (@ManhattanDA) September 21, 2022
Legal experts too are stunned.
“The more I read about the NY AG civil fraud case against Trump, the more I wonder how Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg could possibly have rejected indicting him for criminal fraud,” writes Tristan Snell, an attorney formerly in the NY AG’s office who prosecuted the Trump University case.
On Wednesday he observed “NYAG Tish James’s office remains unimpressed with the performance of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in their parallel investigations.”
The summary makes clear that NYAG Tish James’s office remains unimpressed with the performance of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in their parallel investigations. pic.twitter.com/bk1Ajehi0T
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 21, 2022
Law professor Jennifer Taub says she’s “Wondering whether this puts pressure on Alvin Bragg to act.”
“Much of what [James] is describing is EXACTLY what Cy Vance was investigating.”
Attorney, political commentator, and former South Carolina state lawmaker Bakari Sellers says Bragg “has abdicated his duty and/or lacks the courage to do his job.”
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Giuliani Booking Photo Released
Former Trump attorney and former Republican Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani was booked in Fulton County, Georgia Wednesday afternoon on racketeering charges and charges related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
He was released on a $150,000 bond after being arraigned on 13 charges.
“Conditions include prohibitions against intimidating co-defendants or witnesses, and against communicating with co-defendants other than through their lawyers. Giuliani must check in with pretrial services every 30 days,” USA Today reports.
Former Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell were also booked and their photos have been made public as well.
See all three mug shots below or at this link.
Fulton County sheriff’s office releases Rudy Giuliani’s mugshot pic.twitter.com/NHoQdAuCT5
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) August 23, 2023
Booking photos of Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell. pic.twitter.com/isyWaGJupG
— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) August 23, 2023
‘Moral Turpitude’: Bill Barr Hammers Donald Trump
“You know, you don’t get immunity for two years in the run-up to an election just by saying, ‘Hey, I’m a candidate,'” Barr told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.
“These investigations have been going on for a while, everyone knew about them even before he announced his candidacy,” Barr continued. “So if there’s a chance to get it resolved before the election, it should be because the American people should know these are crimes involved – or potential crimes – involving moral turpitude.”
Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute says moral turpitude is “wicked, deviant behavior constituting an immoral, unethical, or unjust departure from ordinary social standards such that it would shock a community.”
Barr also talked about the two federal cases brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, one for Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, and one for his refusal to return classified and other documents.
“I think the federal cases are legitimate,” Barr said. “At the end of the day, at the core of this thing he engaged in – in the case of the documents – in outrageous behavior where anyone would be prosecuted. I don’t know of any attorney general who could walk away from it.”
“He’s not being prosecuted for having the documents, he’s being prosecuted for obstruction, two egregious instances are alleged so I think that’s a very simple case.”
Barr also said for him, Trump “crossed the line” when “he used this device of impaneling imposter electors, swearing that they were the electors, but the key point there was, they were in tandem with a plan whereby the vice president would use that as a pretext for nullifying the legal and certified votes. So it was a calculated and deceitful plan to remain in office by nullifying and negating certified legal votes.”
Watch the videos below or at this link:
“You don’t get immunity for two years in the run-up to an election just by saying, ‘Hey, I’m a candidate’ … These investigations have been going on for a while. Everyone knew about them, even before he announced his candidacy.”
— Former Attorney General Bill Barr on Trump pic.twitter.com/yhDft2bZ7W
— The Recount (@therecount) August 17, 2023
Barr: The federal cases are legitimate. At the end of the day, the core of this, he engaged in (in the case of the documents) outrageous behavior that anybody would be prosecuted. I don’t know of any Attorney General who could walk away from it pic.twitter.com/8ijyPiDjLL
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 17, 2023
Special Counsel Wanted Trump’s Twitter Direct Messages When He Obtained a Search Warrant: Report
Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant for access to Donald Trump’s Twitter account in January, but was looking for non-public information from the account.
That non-public information was Trump’s direct messages, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reports, noting there were “many.” DMs are private.
Smith, who has already obtained indictments against Donald Trump for the ex-president’s removal and refusal to return classified documents and for the ex-president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, appears to have accessed an important resource.
“The special counsel was seeking Trump’s direct messages on Twitter, of which there were many, federal prosecutors and lawyers for Twitter revealed in newly unsealed transcripts from hearings about the search warrant,” Collins reported Tuesday evening.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said, “I’m surprised that Trump had “many” direct messages. Given that he doesn’t use text and email, they could more directly reveal his intent than other evidence Jack Smith has.”
Experts have wondered why Smith would have wanted access to Trump’s Twitter account, which was suspended after the 2021 insurrection. Elon Musk, who bought Twitter in late 2022, has since reinstated Trump’s account, but the ex-president has not made any public posts on the social media site, now renamed X.
Noted technologist John Gruber last week when news broke that Smith had obtained a search warrant for Trump’s Twitter account wrote, “I’m keenly interested in what the search warrant was after. It wasn’t Trump’s tweets, which are public.”
“So the obvious conclusion: his direct messages. Trump, famously, does not use email and, until this year, apparently didn’t use text messaging either. But did he send or receive DMs on Twitter? And was he stupid enough to put anything incriminating in them?”
“We also know,” Gruber continued, “that ‘deleted’ tweets were just hidden, not actually deleted — and a bug resulted in deleted tweets resurfacing. Was that (or is it still) true for ‘deleted’ direct messages as well? I think it’s quite likely that every single DM ever sent on Twitter is still around.”
A filing had said “the court ‘found probable cause to search the Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses,’” according to an Associated Press report last week.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license
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