The prosecutor’s leading Trump case says rhetoric won’t intimidate the office

NEW YORK (AP) – Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has firmly opposed Donald Trump’s increasingly hostile rhetoric, telling his staff that the office will not be intimidated or deterred as it approaches a decision on the former president’s impeachment .

Bragg sent an internal memo late Saturday after Trump released a three-part, all-caps social media post saying he could be arrested in the coming days, criticizing the prosecutor and encouraging his supporters to protest and “ACCEPT.” OUR NATION BACK!”

Bragg, whose office has called witnesses before a grand jury investigating the hush money Trump paid during his 2016 campaign, did not mention the Republican by name but made it clear who he was writing about. The memo came as law enforcement officials in New York City are preparing for security against the possibility of Trump being charged and appearing in court in Manhattan.

“We will not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” Bragg wrote, citing “press attention and public comment” on an ongoing investigation into his office.

As Bragg tried to allay concerns about potential threats, posts surfaced on the internet about protests, including a Monday anti-Bragg rally organized by the New York Young Republican Club.

Law enforcement officials in New York are also closely monitoring online chat warning of protests and violence if Trump is arrested, four law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The threats law enforcement officials are pursuing vary in specificity and credibility, officials said. The messages, which were mostly published online and in chat groups, included calls for armed protesters to block law enforcement officials and try to prevent any possible arrest, officials said.

Law enforcement officials are also discussing a variety of security plans for lower Manhattan in the event Trump is indicted. Those plans — which officials described as tentative — include the possibility of closing several streets around Manhattan Criminal Court and blocking streets with large trucks, similar to security protocols used for major events and parades in New York.

Officials could not publicly discuss details of the security plans and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Bragg, a Democrat, inherited years of investigations into Trump when he took office in January 2022, and was quick to come under fire — not from Trump, but from prosecutors who backed away from his predecessor’s plans, the former president over business-related fraud to accuse

Bragg bounced back with convictions for Trump’s corporation, the Trump Organization, and his longtime chief of finance for an unrelated tax fraud scheme before moving on to what he called the “next chapter” of the investigation — and the hush-money payments that were the subject , revisited by repeated requests at the federal and state levels over the past six years.

Now, as that investigation nears its conclusion, Bragg is attempting to reassure his 1,600 staff in the face of mounting hostility from Trump and his supporters.

In his Saturday night memo, he wrote that the bureau is working with court officials and the New York City Police Department to make sure they are safe and that “any specific or credible threat against the bureau” will be investigated.

The memo and Trump’s previous social media posts underscored the stylistic contrast between Bragg and Trump — two native New Yorkers but from different eras, neighborhoods and backgrounds, and with vastly different personalities.

Bragg, an old-school lawyer who prefers to let his work do the talking, has declined to comment publicly on the status of the hush money investigation or Trump’s bombastic letters. His office also declined to comment.

There was no public announcement of a timeframe for a decision on whether to indict Trump, and at least one other witness is expected to testify Monday, further indicating that an indictment vote has not yet taken place.

In a post on Sunday, Trump berated Bragg – Manhattan’s first black district attorney – as “racist in reverse” and, without evidence, accused him of taking orders from the Justice Department and being a pawn for Democratic billionaire donor George Soros, who backed Bragg’s campaign through the Color Of Change PAC.

Bragg, 49, took office 15 months ago amid what he calls a “perfect storm” of rising crime and political pressures, along with internal disputes he’s faced over the direction of the Trump investigation.

A Harvard-educated former federal attorney, assistant attorney general and civil rights attorney, Bragg was endowed with legal and managerial credentials but did not have much experience of New York City politics.

His courtroom good deeds include pursuing a rogue FBI agent and overseeing trials against Trump while he was a senior official in the attorney general’s office. His life experience includes growing up in Harlem during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and being held at gunpoint six times — three times by the police.

But shortly after he took office, Republicans and some centrist Democrats branded Bragg soft on crime for a “Day One” memo he sent to staff outlining his philosophy on prosecuting — or not prosecuting — certain crimes. Among other things, it said prosecutors would no longer prosecute some minor offenses, including subway fare evasion and marijuana possession.

Former US Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican, ran for governor last year, in part on a promise to remove independently elected Bragg from office. The anti-Bragg vitriol became so rancid — and sometimes racist — that friends worried about his safety.

The New York Post brought Bragg to the front page 13 times in his first year in office, five of them in his first month, with taunting headlines like “Happy 2022, Criminals!” and “‘Justice’ Gone Mad.”

It became routine for a Post photographer to pelt Bragg with questions he often ignored each morning upon his arrival at the DA’s office. The truth was, while some types of crime in Manhattan increased in 2022, there were fewer homicides and shootings compared to the previous year.

At the prosecutor’s office, Bragg has faced disagreements over the direction of the Trump investigation – complaints that were re-aired last month in a book by former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz.

In 2021, Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., authorized Pomerantz and another senior congressman, Carey Dunne, to face charges over allegations that Trump exaggerated the value of his wealth in financial statements he provided to lenders. Vance left office before the case was closed, leaving Bragg to decide the charges.

Bragg decided not to proceed immediately, citing concerns about the strength of the case. In a recent statement, he said, “Pomerantz’s plane was not ready for takeoff.”

The delay prompted Pomerantz and Dunne to resign, leading to some speculation that Bragg had given up pursuing a case against Trump.

Bragg refuted this in a rare public statement last April, writing, “In the long and proud tradition of the prosecution in the Manhattan Attorney’s Office, we investigate thoroughly and pursue the facts without fear or favor.”


Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.


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Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press


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