Lodi News-Sentinel

Manhattan D.A. poised to bring charges against former president

- Greg Farrell and Laura Nahmias

Weeks into his new job as Manhattan district attorney last year, Alvin Bragg faced a firestorm: Two senior prosecutor­s heading the office’s fouryear investigat­ion of Donald Trump wanted an immediate indictment of the former president.

Bragg told them the case wasn’t ready. The men quit in frustratio­n, and it quickly spread that Bragg was abandoning the Trump investigat­ion. It was a disastrous start to Bragg’s tenure at One Hogan Place.

A year after that momentous decision, the 49-year-old Harlem native is poised to become the first prosecutor to file criminal charges against Trump, which will turn him into a hero for the former president’s foes and a target of hatred for millions of Trump supporters.

Trump has already decried the investigat­ion as a political witch hunt, labeling Bragg, who is Black, a “racist” and urging his supporters to protest any attempt to arrest and prosecute him.

New York City is already bracing for what would be an unpreceden­ted and tense indictment of a former president over alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Police have erected security barricades outside the court, and Bragg’s office has said it won’t be intimidate­d by attempts to undermine the justice process. On Tuesday, the courthouse at 60 Centre Street was temporaril­y closed and searched after a bomb threat. A judge was about to start a hearing there over a $250 million lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump.

Five years into an investigat­ion launched by his predecesso­r, Cyrus Vance Jr., Bragg appears close to deciding to charge Trump. He has brought a string of witnesses before a grand jury, many of whom were involved in or aware of a hush money payment made by former Trump fixer and personal lawyer Michael Cohen to Daniels in the final days of the 2016 election campaign.

In recent weeks Bragg’s office contacted Trump’s lawyers to offer the former president the opportunit­y to address the grand jury himself, a step that normally takes place at the end of the investigat­ive process. Trump declined, but the invitation alerted him that Bragg was on the verge of making a decision.

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